The mechanisms by which plants integrate light signals to modify endogenous developmental programs are largely unknown. One candidate for a signal transduction component that may integrate light with developmental pathways is the Arabidopsis DET1 gene product. Here we report the positional cloning of the DET1 locus and show that DET1 is a unique nuclear-localized protein. An analysis of a number of det1 mutants indicates that mutants with partial DET1 activity develop as light-grown plants in the dark. det1 null mutants share this phenotype, but also display severe defects in temporal and spatial regulation of gene expression. These results suggest that DET1 acts in the nucleus to control the cell type-specific expression of light-regulated promoters.