The use of genetically modified bacteria to deliver biologically active molecules directly to the gut has become an increasingly attractive area of investigation. The challenge of regulation of production of the therapeutic molecule and colonization of the bowel led us to investigate Bacteroides ovatus for the production of these molecules, due to its ability to colonize the colon and xylan utilization properties. Here we have identified the putative xylanase promoter. The 5′ region of the corresponding mRNA was determined by 5′RACE analysis and the transcription initiation site was identified 216 bp upstream of the ATG start codon. The putative xylanase promoter was regulated by xylan in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and repressed by glucose. This promoter was subsequently used to direct the controlled expression of a gene encoding the human intestinal trefoil factor (TFF-3) after integration as a single copy into the chromosome of B. ovatus. The resulting strain produced biologically active TFF-3 in the presence of xylan. These findings identify the B. ovatus xylanase operon promoter and show that it can be utilized to direct xylan-inducible expression of heterologous eukaryotic genes in B. ovatus. © 2008 SGM.