The regA gene of phage T4 encodes a translational repressor that inhibits utilization of its own mRNA as well as the translation of a number of other phage-induced mRNAs. In recombinant plasmids, autogenous translational repression limits production of the RegA protein when the cloned structural gene is expressed under control of a strong, plasmid-borne promoter (lambda P(L)). We have found that a genetic fusion which places the regA ribosome binding domain in proximity to active translation leads to partial derepression of wild-type RegA protein synthesis. The derepression is not due to increased synthesis of regA RNA, suggesting that it occurs at the translational level. Derepressed clones of the wild-type regA gene were used to overproduce and purify the repressor. In an in vitro assay the wild-type target was sensitive and a mutant target was resistant to inhibition by the added protein. The results suggest that the sensitivity of a regA-regulated cistron to translational repression may depend on the competition between ribosomes and RegA protein for overlapping recognition sequences in the translation initiation domain of the mRNA.