An interesting feature of trypanosome genome organization involves genes transcribed by RNA polymerase III. The U6 small nuclear RNA (snRNA), U-snRNA B (the U3 snRNA homolog), and 7SL RNA genes are closely linked with different, divergently oriented tRNA genes. To test the hypothesis that this association is of functional significance, we generated deletion and block substitution mutants of all three small RNA genes and monitored their effects by transient expression in cultured insect-form cells of Trypanosoma brucei. In each case, two extragenic regulatory elements were mapped to the A and B boxes of the respective companion tRNA gene. In addition, the tRNA(Thr) gene, which is upstream of the U6 snRNA gene, was shown by two different tests to be expressed in T. brucei cells, thus confirming its identity as a gene. This association between tRNA and small RNA genes appears to be a general phenomenon in the family Trypanosomatidae, since it is also observed at the U6 snRNA loci in Leishmania pifanoi and Crithidia fasciculata and at the 7SL RNA locus in L. pifanoi. We propose that the A- and B-box elements of small RNA-associated tRNA genes serve a dual role as intragenic promoter elements for the respective tRNA genes and as extragenic regulatory elements for the linked small RNA genes. The possible role of tRNA genes in regulating small RNA gene transcription is discussed.