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A new mutant strain of Chlamydomonas, ptx1, has been identified which is defective in phototaxis. This strain swims with a rate and straightness of path comparable with that of wild-type cells, and retains the photoshock response. Thus, the mutation does not cause any gross defects in swimming ability or photoreception, and appears to be specific for phototaxis. Calcium is required for phototaxis in wild- type cells, and causes a concentration-dependent shift in flagellar dominance in reactivated, demembranated cell models. ptx1-reactivated models are defective in this calcium-dependent shift in flagellar dominance. This indicates that the mutation affects one or more components of the calcium-dependent axonemal regulatory system, and that this system mediates phototaxis. The reduction or absence of two 75-kD axonemal proteins correlates with the nonphototactic phenotype. Axonemal fractionation studies, and analysis of axonemes from mutant strains with known structural defects, failed to reveal the structural localization of the 75-kD proteins within the axoneme. The proteins are not components of the outer dynein arms, two of the three types of inner dynein arms, the radial spokes, or the central pair complex. Because changes in flagellar motility ultimately require the regulation of dynein activity, cell models from mutant strains defective in specific dynein arms were reactivated at various calcium concentrations. Mutants lacking the outer arms, or the I1 or I2 inner dynein arms, retain the wild-type calcium-dependent shift in flagellar dominance. Therefore, none of these arms are the sole mediators of phototaxis.