Two Toxoplasma gondii genes were characterized that are differentially expressed during the parasite's life cycle. The genes named LDH1 and LDH2, respectively, encode polypeptides similar to the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH; L-lactate:NAD+ oxidoreductase, EC 18.104.22.168) from a variety of organisms. They show 64.0% nucleotide identity in the coding region and both have an intron at the same relative position. The deduced amino acid sequences of LDH1 and LDH2 share 71.1% identity. LDH1 and LDH2 are most similar to an LDH of Plasmodium falciparum (46.5% and 48.5% amino acid identities, respectively). The mRNA of LDH2 was only detected in the bradyzoite stage, while the mRNA of LDH1 was detected in both the bradyzoite and tachyzoite stages. However, by isoelectric focusing and immunoblot analysis, only one LDH isoform was found to be expressed in each stage. Furthermore, the expression of a reporter gene carrying chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) coding sequence and the putative LDH2 promoter sequence was significantly up-regulated by growing parasites in tissue culture in media with alkaline pH (pH 8.2, a condition known to induce the expression of bradyzoite-specific antigens), while the expression of a CAT reporter construct carrying the putative LDH1 promoter sequence was down-regulated by similar treatment. These results indicate that LDH expression is developmentally regulated in T. gondii and suggest a possible correlation between stage conversion and alteration in carbohydrate or energy metabolism in this parasite.