The N-acetylglucosaminidase of Candida albicans is a secreted hydrolytic enzyme that contributes to the yeast's virulence. There was a significant increase in the N-acetylglucosaminidase activity of C. albicans cells released from carbon starvation in medium containing N-acetylglucosamine. The increased enzyme activity in N-acetylglucosamine-grown cells correlated with increased transcription of the HEX1 gene, which encodes C. albicans N-acetylglucosaminidase. In contrast, glucose repressed HEX1 transcription, and glucose-grown cells had on average 94-fold lower N-acetylglucosaminidase activities than did N-acetylglucosamine-grown cells. N-acetylglucosaminidase induction in cells grown on N-acetylglucosamine was also repressed by fructose, mannose or galactose, although to a lesser extent than by glucose, and sucrose repressed enzyme production by only 10%. Eighty-eight percent of the enzyme in N-acetylglucosamine-grown cells was localised in the periplasm, and after incubation for 5 h, 30 or 70% of the total enzyme activity was secreted into the medium by yeast or mycelial cells, respectively. The cellular location of the enzyme and the regulation of production by the carbon source indicate a scavenging role for C. albicans N-acetylglucosaminidase.