We have used PCR to identify a Dictyostelium homolog of the bacterial two-component system. The gene dokA codes for a member of the hybrid histidine kinase family which is defined by the presence of conserved amino acid sequence motifs corresponding to an N-terminal receptor domain, a central kinase and a C-terminal response regulator moiety. Potential function of the regulator domain was demonstrated by phosphorylation in vitro. dokA mutants are deficient in the osmoregulatory pathway, resulting in premature cell death under high osmotic stress. Under less stringent osmotic conditions, cells grow at a normal rate, but development at the multicellular stage is altered. dokA is a member of a family of histidine kinase-like genes that play regulatory roles in eukaryotic cell function.