The multicellular alga Volvox is an attractive model for the study of developmental processes. With the recent report of successful transformation, regulated promoters as well as reporter genes working in this organism are now required. The Volvox genes encoding arylsulfatase and the extracellular glycoprotein ISG are strictly regulated. The former is transcribed only under conditions of sulfur starvation, whereas the latter operates under extreme developmental control--i.e., it is transcribed for only a few minutes in Volvox embryos at the stage of embryonic inversion. The gene encoding the sexual pheromone of Volvox carteri was placed under the control of the arylsulfatase promoter. In response to sulfur deprivation, V. carteri transformed by this construct synthesized and secreted biologically active pheromone. In addition, the gene encoding Volvox arylsulfatase was placed under the control of the ISG promoter. Transformed algae synthesized arylsulfatase mRNA only during embryonic inversion. These experiments demonstrate the usefulness of both the arylsulfatase and the sexual pheromone reporter genes. In addition, the highly regulated arylsulfatase promoter allows the construction of inducible expression vectors for cloned genes.