The Clostridium acetobutylicum glutamine synthetase (GS) DNA region is characterized by a downstream promoter, P3, oriented toward the glnA gene, which controls the transcription of an RNA complementary to the start of the glnA mRNA. Expression of the predicted 43-base antisense RNA was demonstrated in C. acetobutylicum and Escherichia coli cells containing the cloned glnA DNA. Antisense RNA transcription from P3 was not regulated by nitrogen in E. coli cells, but the expression of antisense RNA was associated with decreased levels of GS activity. In C. acetobutylicum, GS activity and the transcription of glnA mRNA and antisense RNA were regulated by nitrogen. GS activity and glnA mRNA were repressed in cells grown in nitrogen-rich medium. Repression ratios for GS activity varied from 1.6 to 9.0, depending on the sampling time. The relative number of glnA transcripts was approximately 25% lower in cells grown for 72 h in nitrogen-rich medium than in cells grown in nitrogen-limiting medium. This finding contrasted with the expression of antisense RNA, which was repressed in nitrogen-limiting medium but induced in nitrogen-rich medium. The relative number of antisense RNA transcripts was increased approximately sixfold in cells grown in nitrogen-rich medium. There was a 1.6-fold excess of antisense RNA over glnA mRNA under conditions that repressed GS activity. Under conditions that induced GS activity, glnA mRNA transcripts exceeded antisense RNA transcripts by fivefold.