To study the physiological roles of polyamines, we carried out a global microarray analysis on the effect of adding polyamines to an Escherichia coli mutant that lacks polyamines because of deletions in the genes in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway. Previously, we have reported that the earliest response to polyamine addition is the increased expression of the genes for the glutamate-dependent acid resistance system (GDAR). We also presented preliminary evidence for the involvement of rpoS and gadE regulators. In the current study, further confirmation of the regulatory roles of rpoS and gadE is shown by a comparison of genome-wide expression profiling data from a series of microarrays comparing the genes induced by polyamine addition to polyamine-free rpoS(+)/gadE(+) cells with genes induced by polyamine addition to polyamine-free ΔrpoS/gadE(+) and rpoS(+)/ΔgadE cells. The results indicate that most of the genes in the E. coli GDAR system that are induced by polyamines require rpoS and gadE. Our data also show that gadE is the main regulator of GDAR and other acid fitness island genes. Both polyamines and rpoS are necessary for the expression of gadE gene from the three promoters of gadE (P1, P2, and P3). The most important effect of polyamine addition is the very rapid increase in the level of RpoS sigma factor. Our current hypothesis is that polyamines increase the level of RpoS protein and that this increased RpoS level is responsible for the stimulation of gadE expression, which in turn induces the GDAR system in E. coli.