Treatment of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila with 8-methoxypsoralen combined with long wavelength ultraviolet irradiation (UVA, lambda approximately 360 nm) resulted in a dose dependent equal inhibition of the synthesis of rRNA, 5.8S, 5S and tRNA. Similar results were obtained with 3-carbethoxy-8-methoxypsoralen which predominantly forms DNA mono-adducts. In contrast the synthesis of tRNA in T. thermophila was much less sensitive than that of rRNA, 5.8S and 5S RNA to treatment with short wavelength ultraviolet irradiation (UVB, lambda approximately 254 nm). These results are interpreted in favor of a mechanism by which psoralen-DNA adducts (crosslinks much greater than monoadducts) inhibit RNA transcription initiation (in contrast to UVB which causes premature chain termination). Furthermore it is argued that RNA synthesis is regulated in equally sized domains regardless of the gene-size.