Current advances in the research and practical applications of pleiotropic regulatory genes for antibiotic production in actinomycetes are reviewed. The basic regulatory mechanisms found in these bacteria are outlined. Examples described in the review show the importance of the manipulation of regulatory systems that affect the synthesis of antibiotics for the metabolic engineering of the actinomycetes. Also, the study of these genes is the basis for the development of genetic engineering approaches towards the induction of "cryptic" part of the actinomycetes secondary metabolome, which capacity for production of biologically active compounds is much bigger than the diversity of antibiotics underpinned by traditional microbiological screening. Besides the practical problems, the study of regulatory genes for antibiotic biosynthesis will provide insights into the process of evolution of complex regulatory systems that coordinate the expression of gene operons, clusters and regulons, involved in the control of secondary metabolism and morphogenesis of actinomycetes.