In the green unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, as in higher plants, the expression of the genes encoding the chlorophyll a/b-binding (CAB) polypeptides associated with photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII) is regulated by endogenous (circadian clock) and exogenous signals (light and temperature). The circadian clock ensures that the oscillation in the levels of the different cab mRNAs is continuously kept in phase with light/dark (LD) cycles and is maximal by the middle of the day. On the other hand, light controls the amplitude of the oscillations. We report here the cloning and characterization of the C. reinhardtii LI818 gene, which identifies a CAB-related polypeptide and whose expression is regulated quite differently from the cab I/II genes. We show: (1) that in LD synchronized Chlamydomonas cells LI818 mRNA accumulation is subject to dual regulation that involves separable regulation by light and an endogenous oscillator; (2) that LI818 mRNA is fully expressed several hours before the cab I/II mRNAs and that the latter accumulate concomitantly; (3) that blocking the electron flow through PSII using DCMU prevents cells from accumulating cab I/II mRNAs but not LI818 mRNA and (4) that the accumulation of LI818 mRNA is abolished by blocking cytoplasmic protein synthesis, suggesting that these regulatory mechanisms are mediated by labile proteins.