The major surface antigen of procyclic and epimastigote forms of Trypanosoma congolense in the tsetse fly is GARP (glutamic acid/alanine-rich protein), which is thought to be the analogue of procyclin/PARP in Trypanosoma brucei. We have studied two T.congolense GARP loci (the 4.3 and 4.4 loci) whose transcription is alpha-amanitin sensitive. Whilst a transcriptional gap 5' of the first GARP gene in the cloned region of the 4.4 locus could not be detected, such a gap was present in the 5' flank of the first GARP gene in the 4.3 locus. We have located a GARP transcription start site and, using reporter gene constructs containing a putative GARP promoter region in transient transfection studies, we have demonstrated promoter activity for the test region in T.congolense. There are species-specific differences in sequences regulating expression of the two major surface antigens, GARP and procyclin/PARP: the GARP promoter is inactive in T.brucei while the procyclin/PARP promoter is inactive in T.congolense. We have defined the splice acceptor site for the 4.3 GARP gene by sequencing and by 5' RT-PCR and demonstrated microheterogeneity in GARP polyadenylation by 3' RT-PCR. It appears that some GARP and procyclin/PARP RNA processing signals, although similar, are also species-specific.