By database search analysis, we identified three Arabidopsis EST (Expression Sequence Tag) entries having similarity to eubacterial RNA polymerase sigma factors. cDNA clones corresponding to these partial sequences were isolated, and the complete nucleotide sequences were determined. All three sequences encode proteins highly homologous to cyanobacterial and plastid sigma factors, and the gene products have N-terminal extensions which are assumed to function as plastid-targeting transit peptides. Thus we have concluded that the gene products are RNA polymerase sigma factors of plastids, and named sigA, sigB and sigC, respectively. Expression of these genes was analyzed by RNA gel-blot analysis and shown to be induced by illumination after a short-term dark adaptation. This strongly suggests that light regulation of the nuclear encoded sigma factor genes is involved in light-dependent activation of plastid promoters.