Two promoters for the Escherichia coli operon that contains the four genes dnaA, dnaN, recF, and gyrB were found to be growth rate regulated and under stringent control. Transcript abundance relative to total RNA increased with the growth rate. Changes in transcription from the dnaAp1 and dnaAp2 promoters that were induced by amino acid starvation and chloramphenicol and were relA dependent were correlated with the stringent response. The abundance of these transcripts per total RNA also decreased in spoT mutants as the severity of the mutation increased (guanosine 5'-diphosphate 3'-diphosphate [ppGpp] basal levels increased). Because expression of these promoters appears to be inhibited by ppGpp, it is proposed that one mechanism for coupling DNA replication to the growth rate of bacteria is through ppGpp synthesis at the ribosome.