The PHR1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes the apoenzyme for the DNA repair enzyme photolyase. PHR1 transcription is induced in response to 254 nm radiation and a variety of chemical damaging agents. We report here the identification of promoter elements required for PHR1 expression. Transcription is regulated primarily through three sequence elements clustered within a 120 bp region immediately upstream of the translational start site. A 20 bp interrupted palindrome comprises UASPHR1 and is responsible for 80-90% of basal and induced expression. UASPHR1 alone can activate transcription of a CYC1 minimal promoter but does not confer damage responsiveness. In the intact PHR1 promoter UAS function is dependent upon an upstream essential sequence (UES). URSPHR1 contains a binding site for the damage-responsive repressor Prp; consistent with this role, deletion or specific mutations of the URS increase basal level expression and decrease the induction ratio. Deletion of URSPHR1 also eliminates the requirement for UESPHR1 for promoter activation, indicating that the UES attenuates Prp-mediated repression. Sequences within UASPHR1 are similar to regulatory sequences found upstream of both damage responsive and nonresponsive genes involved in DNA repair and metabolism.