Expression of the pea plastocyanin gene (PetE) is regulated by light in both pea and transgenic tobacco plants. However, the PetE promoter with the 5' untranslated leader region does not direct light-regulated expression of the GUS reporter gene in transgenic tobacco. This suggested that sequences downstream of the translation start of the PetE gene are required for light-regulated expression. To investigate this possibility the expression of a series of chimeric gene constructs in transgenic tobacco plants was examined to assess the contributions of the promoter, the 5' untranslated leader region, the coding region and the 3' region of the PetE gene to light-regulated expression. Both the coding region and the 5' untranslated leader region of the PetE gene were found to be required for full light regulation. Full light regulation of chimeric gene constructs containing the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter required the deletion of CaMV 5' leader and polylinker sequences from the constructs. The presence of CaMV and polylinker sequences at the 5' end of the PetE leader masked the light regulation directed by the transcribed region of the pea PetE gene.