The yeast CHA1 promoter is activated in the presence of serine or threonine. Activation requires the Cha4p activator, and it results in perturbation of a nucleosome that incorporates the TATA element under noninducing conditions. We show that in yeast lacking the amino terminus of histone H3, the promoter is constitutively active and the chromatin is concomitantly perturbed. This derepression occurs in the absence of elevated intracellular levels of serine or threonine and is not observed in cells lacking Rpd3p, Tup1p, or the amino terminus of histone H4. Furthermore, derepression in the absence of the H3 amino terminus requires the primary activator of this promoter, Cha4p, which we show by chromatin immunoprecipitation to be constitutively bound to the CHA1 promoter in WT yeast. Thus, the H3 amino terminus is required to prevent Cha4p from activating CHA1 in the absence of inducer. We also present results of a microarray experiment showing that the H3 amino terminus has a substantial repressive effect on a genome-wide scale.