We placed a regulatory sequence derived from the GAL10 locus of Saccharomyces cerevisiae at various distances from the start sites of transcription of two yeast ribosomal protein genes, tcm1 and cyh2. The hybrid ribosomal protein genes were transcribed at wild-type levels in the presence of galactose. In the absence of galactose, the hybrid genes were transcribed either at a reduced level or essentially not at all. Yeast cells which transcribe the ribosomal protein genes at a reduced rate continued to grow, suggesting that enhanced translation of the ribosomal protein mRNA may permit an adequate rate of synthesis of the corresponding protein. Consistent with this suggestion is the finding that preexisting mRNA decayed at a reduced rate when transcription was halted abruptly by removal of galactose. Yeast cells unable to transcribe tcm1 or cyh2 without galactose did not grow. These conditional lethal strains demonstrate that the ribosomal proteins encoded by tcm1 and cyh2 are essential; furthermore, these strains are potentially useful for isolating mutations in the tcm1 and cyh2 proteins affecting their transport, assembly, or function.