The NifA protein of Klebsiella pneumoniae is required for transcriptional activation of all nitrogen fixation (nif) operons except the regulatory nifLA genes. At these operons, NifA binds to an upstream activator sequence (UAS), with the consensus TGT-N(10)-ACA, via a C-terminal DNA-binding domain (CTD). Binding of the activator to this upstream enhancer-like sequence allows NifA to interact with RNA polymerase containing the alternative sigma factor, sigma(54). The isolated NifA CTD is monomeric and binds specifically to DNA in vitro as shown by DNase I footprinting. Heteronuclear 3D NMR experiments have been used to assign the signals from the protein backbone. Three alpha-helices have been identified, based on secondary chemical shifts and medium range Halpha(i)-NH(i)( + 1), and NH(i)-NH(i)( + 1) NOEs. On addition of DNA containing a half-site UAS, several changes are observed in the NMR spectra, allowing the identification of residues that are most likely to interact with DNA. These occur in the final two helices of the protein, directly confirming that DNA binding is mediated by a helix-turn-helix motif.