The Pseudomonas-derived σ54-dependent regulator DmpR has an amino-terminal A-domain controlling the specificity of activation by aromatic effectors, a central C-domain mediating an ATPase activity essential for transcriptional activation and a carboxy-terminal D-domain involved in DNA binding. In the presence of aromatic effectors, the DmpR protein promotes transcription from the −24, −12 Po promoter controlling the expression of specialized (methyl)phenol catabolic enzymes. Previous analysis of DmpR has led to a model in which the A-domain acts as an interdomain repressor of DmpR's ATPase and transcriptional promoting property until specific aromatic effectors are bound. Here, the autonomous nature of the A-domain in exerting its biological functions has been dissected by expressing portions of DmpR as independent polypeptides. The A-domain of DmpR is shown to be both necessary and sufficient to bind phenol. Analysis of phenol binding suggests one binding site per monomer of DmpR, with a dissociation constant of 16 μM. The A-domain is also shown to have specific affinity for the C-domain and to repress the C-domain mediated ATPase activity in vitro autonomously. However, physical uncoupling of the A-domain from the remainder of the regulator results in a system that does not respond to aromatics by its normal derepression mechanism. The mechanistic implications of aromatic non-responsiveness of autonomously expressed A-domain, despite its demonstrated ability to bind phenol, are discussed.