Higher plants are able to integrate environmental and endogenous signals to regulate gene expression for optimal development. To define the minimal sequence requirement sufficient to integrate light and developmental signals in controlling promoter activity, we carried out a systematic analysis of the roles of four well-conserved 'light-responsive elements (LREs)' common to many nuclear-encoded photosynthetic genes. A gain-of-function assay using basal promoter-reporter fusions in stable transgenic Arabidopsis was employed to demonstrate that pairwise combinations of the LREs, but not the individual elements alone, can confer light-inducible expression to the reporter gene independently of the basal promoter context and the light-triggered morphological changes. The activity of the synthetic promoters with the paired LREs can be modulated at least by the phytochrome system. Further, those synthetic light-regulated promoters confer a photosynthetic cell-specific expression pattern and respond to the chloroplast development state. Our data suggest that distinct combinatorial interactions of LREs can serve as minimal autonomous promoter determinants which integrate light and developmental signals and modulate promoter activity.