Eleven mutations resulting in partially deleted or truncated LEU3 protein were generated by linker insertion or other modifications at restriction sites, deletion of restriction fragments, or oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis. Functional studies of these mutants showed the following: (i) A specific DNA binding region is contained within the 173 N-terminal residues, but other regions of the protein are required for optimal binding. (ii) Activation of LEU2 expression depends on the C-terminal 113 residues of the LEU3 protein. (iii) Deletion of part or all of a central section of LEU3 eliminates the ability of the LEU3 protein to respond to the co-activator alpha-isopropylmalate, i.e. creates an unmodulated activator. (iv) Overproduction of unmodulated activator slows down cell growth. (v) Specific deletion of two short acidic regions, including one with net charge - 19, has only minor effects on activation and modulation.