The stringent response in Corynebacterium glutamicum was investigated. Sets of rrn-cat fusions were constructed in their native chromosomal position to examine the effects of amino acid starvation in a rel(+) strain and a Deltarel mutant defective in (p)ppGpp metabolism. The expression of the six rrn operons in the rel(+) control was stringently regulated and reduced to 79% upon induction of amino acid starvation. The Deltarel mutant displayed a relaxed regulation and was unable to reduce the rrn expression under amino acid depletion conditions. In addition, the Deltarel mutant grew more slowly in minimal medium than a rel(+) control. This growth effect was restored by a plasmid-encoded copy of rel or, alternatively, by supplementation of the minimal medium with the amino acid mixture casamino acids. In particular, the Deltarel strain of C. glutamicum displayed a requirement for the amino acids histidine and serine.