The early spo genes are subject to a number of different control mechanisms. We found that at least one histidine kinase, SpoIIJ, is important for the expression of early spo genes but that two others, ComP and DegS, also affect sporulation, especially when SpoIIJ is absent. This indicates the existence of a signal transduction network which may gather information from several sources to feed into the sporulation pathway. Early spo gene expression is inhibited by overproduction of two response regulators, SpoOF and ComA. This effect is eliminated by the elevated presence of their cognate histidine kinases, SpoIIJ and ComP, respectively. This suggests that the unphosphorylated response regulators cause the inhibition of sporulation.