Symbiotic nitrogen fixation may be limited by the transport of C4 dicarboxylates into bacteroids in the nodule for use as a carbon and energy source. In an attempt to increase dicarboxylate transport, a plasmid was constructed in which the Rhizobium meliloti structural transport gene dctA was fused to a tryptophan operon promoter from Salmonella typhimurium, trpPO. This resulted in a functional dctA gene that was no longer under the control of the dctBD regulatory genes, but the recombinant plasmid was found to be unstable in R. meliloti. To stably integrate the trpPO-dctA fusion, it was recloned into pBR325 and recombined into the R. meliloti exo megaplasmid in the dctABD region. The resultant strain showed constitutive dctA-specific mRNA synthesis which was about 5-fold higher than that found in fully induced wild-type cells. Uptake assays showed that [14C]succinate transport by the trpPO-dctA fusion strain was constitutive, and the transport rate was the same as that of induced control cells. Acetylene reduction assays indicated a significantly higher rate of nitrogen fixation in plants inoculated with the trpPO-dctA fusion strain compared with the control. Despite this apparent increase, the plants had the same top dry weights as those inoculated with control cells. Key words: acetylene reduction, genetic engineering, nodule, plasmid stability, promoter.