A simple and reproducible assay for DNA-mediated transfection in the trypanosomatid protozoan Leptomonas seymouri has been developed. The assay is based on expression of the Escherichia coli chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) gene flanked by Leptomonas DNA fragments that are likely to contain necessary elements for gene expression in trypanosomes. After electroporation of cells in the presence of plasmid DNA, CAT activity was detected in crude cell lysates. No activity was detected when the orientation of the L. seymouri mini-exon sequence (placed upstream of the CAT gene) was reversed, or in additional control experiments. This system provides a method for defining transcriptional control elements in trypanosomes.