The expression under microaerobic conditions of the Rhizobium meliloti nifA and consequently the nifHDK genes was found to be negatively regulated by ammonia and nitrate. Assimilation of the ammonia to glutamate and glutamine is not required for this regulation to occur. This indicates that ammonia itself, and not a product of its metabolism, may be regulating nif expression. Unlike the situation in Klebsiella pneumoniae, NtrC is apparently not involved in mediating the ammonia effect on nifA expression in R. meliloti. Neither does the fixK gene product, which is known to regulate nifA in R. meliloti, appear to be involved in mediating the ammonia effect. The regulation of nifA by ammonia is shown to be mediated through the FixL protein. A truncated fixJ gene, the product of which has been shown to induce nifA expression irrespective of the oxygen status of the cell, also circumvented the repressive effect of ammonia on nifA expression. This suggests that the ammonia effect is mediated through the FixLJ regulatory cascade. Interstingly no effect of ammonia on fixK expression was observed.