We used the differential display technique on total RNAs from roots of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. plants which had or had not been induced for 2 h by nitrate. One isolated cDNA clone, designated Nrt2:1At, was found to code for a putative high-affinity nitrate transporter. Two genomic sequences homologous to Nrt2:1At were found to be localized on the same fragment of chromosome 1 in the Arabidopsis genome. Expression analyses of both low- and high-affinity nitrate transporter genes, respectively Nrt1:1At (previously named Chl1) and Nrt2:1At, were carried out on plants grown under different nitrogen regimes. In this paper, we show that both genes are induced by very low levels of nitrate (50 microM KNO3). However, stronger induction was observed with Nrt2:1At than with Nrt1:1At. Moreover, these two genes, although both over-expressed in a nitrate-reductase-deficient mutant, were differently regulated when N-sufficient wild-type or mutant plants were transferred to an N-free medium. Indeed, the steady-state amounts of Nrt1:1At mRNA declined whereas the amount of Nrt2:1At mRNA increased, probably reflecting the de-repression of the high-affinity transport system during N-starvation.