Kinase A is the sensor histidine kinase responsible for processing postexponential phase information and providing phosphate input to the phosphorelay that activates developmental transcription via phosphorylated Spo0A. A protein inhibitor, KipI, of kinase A was discovered encoded in an operon of genes of unknown function but regulated by the availability of fixed nitrogen. KipI is a potent inhibitor of the autophosphorylation reaction of kinase A but does not inhibit phosphate transfer to the Spo0F response regulator once kinase A is phosphorylated. KipI is an inhibitor of the catalytic domain of kinase A affecting the ATP/ADP reactions and not the phosphotransferase functions of this domain. The inhibitory activity of KipI is counteracted by the product of another gene in the operon, KipA. This protein may bind to KipI, preventing its function as an inhibitor of kinase A. KipI may be the first representative of a new class of signal transduction inhibitors that function by direct interaction with the catalytic domain of histidine kinases to counteract signals influencing the "sensor" domain of such kinases. This inhibitor represents yet another way by which the phosphorelay signal transduction system is affected by negative regulators under the control of metabolic, environmental, or cell cycle influences antithetical to the initiation of developmental transcription.