Coordination between the activities of organelles and the nucleus requires the exchange of signals. Using Chlamydomonas, we provide evidence that plastid-derived chlorophyll precursors may replace light in the induction of two nuclear heat-shock genes (HSP70A and HSP70B) and thus qualify as plastidic signal. Mutants defective in the synthesis of Mg-protoporphyrin IX were no longer inducible by light. Feeding of Mg-protoporphyrin IX or its dimethyl ester to wild-type or mutant cells in the dark resulted in induction. The analysis of HSP70A promoter mutants that do or do not respond to light revealed that these chlorophyll precursors specifically activate the light signaling pathway. Activation of gene expression was not observed when protoporphyrin IX, protochlorophyllide, or chlorophyllide were added. A specific interaction of defined chlorophyll precursors with factor(s) that regulate nuclear gene expression is suggested.