Sporangiophore formation in Physarum plasmodia starts about 10 hr after photoinduction. It is characterized by the induction of two tubulins and of at least 15 major sporangiophore morphogenetic proteins. In vitro translation of extracted mRNA revealed that differential gene expression is based on a highly synchronous temporal program of loss of plasmodial and induction of sporulation-specific mRNA species. Using a cloned cDNA encoding part of a sporangiophore morphogenetic protein from Physarum as a probe it was found that the induction of the complementary mRNA activity is due to the induction of the mRNA itself. The results suggest that light induces, with a lag phase of about 10 hr, the transient activation of sporulation-specific genes.