The malate synthase gene, MLS1, of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is transcriptionally regulated by the carbon source in the growth medium. A MLS1-lacZ fusion gene, expressed at a basal level in the presence of 2% glucose, is derepressed more than 100-fold under conditions of sugar limitation. No evidence for MLS1 induction by oleic acid was found. By deletion analysis of the MLS1 control region, we identified two sites, UAS1 and UAS2, as important for efficient derepression of the gene. Both sites contain sequences that resemble the previously characterized carbon source-responsive element (CSRE) found in the promoter of the isocitrate lyase gene ICL1. Indeed, UAS1 and UAS2 in the MLS1 upstream region turn out to be functional CSRE sequence variants. This finding allowed us to define a modified version of the CSRE consensus sequence (CCRTYSRNCCG). Protein binding to UAS1MLS1 was observed with extracts from derepressed but not from repressed cells, and could be competed for by an excess of the unlabelled CSRE (ICL1) sequence. No competition was observed with a mutated CSRE variant. Site-directed mutagenesis of both CSREs in the MLS1 promoter reduced gene activation under derepressing conditions to 20% of the wild-type level. The same decrease was observed with the wild-type MLS1 promoter in a cat8 mutant, lacking an activator of CSRE-dependent transcription. The CSRE/Cat8p-independent activation of MLS1 is mediated by constitutive UAS elements. The pleiotropic transcription factor Abf1p, which binds to the MLS1 upstream region, may contribute to constitutive activation. Thus, in order to ensure the severe glucose repression of MLS1 observed, repressor elements that respond to the carbon source must counteract constitutive activation. In summary, ICL1 and MLS1 share common cis-acting elements, although a distinct mechanism of carbon source control also contributes to MLS1 regulation.