We report here the identification and characterization of a new Arabidopsis light-regulatory locus, COP9, mutation that leads to a constitutive photomorphogenic phenotype. Dark-grown cop9 seedlings exhibit many morphological characteristics of light-grown seedlings, including short hypocotyls and open and enlarged cotyledons with cell-type and chloroplast differentiation. Furthermore, the cop9 mutation leads to high-level expression of light-inducible genes in the absence of light, probably by altering the promoter activities of these genes. These properties imply that the mutation in the COP9 locus uncouples the light/dark signals from morphogenesis and light-regulated gene expression. In addition, light-grown cop9 mutants are severely dwarfed and are unable to reach maturation and flowering. This adult-lethal phenotype indicates that the COP9 locus also plays a critical role for normal development of the light-grown plant. Similar to cop1 mutants, but not det1, the cop9 mutants show (1) no effect on the phytochrome control of seed germination and (2) deficiency in the dark-adaptive change of expression of light-regulated genes. Our results suggest that the cop9 and cop1 mutations result in the same range of phenotypes and therefore COP9 and COP1 loci may encode closely related components in the same regulatory pathway.