AraL from Bacillus subtilis is a member of the ubiquitous haloalkanoate dehalogenase, HAD, superfamily. The araL gene has been cloned, over-expressed in Escherichia coli and its product purified to homogeneity. The enzyme displays phosphatase activity, which is optimal at neutral pH (7.0) and 65 °C. Substrate screening and kinetic analysis showed AraL to have low specificity and catalytic activity towards several sugar phosphates, which are metabolic intermediates of the glycolytic and pentose phosphate pathways. Based on substrate specificity and gene context within the arabinose metabolic operon, a putative physiological role of AraL in detoxification of accidental accumulation of phosphorylated metabolites has been proposed. The ability of AraL to catabolise several related secondary metabolites requires regulation at the genetic level. Here, by site-directed mutagenesis, we show that AraL production is regulated by a structure in the translation initiation region of the mRNA, which most probably blocks access to the ribosome-binding site, preventing protein synthesis. Members of HAD subfamily IIA and IIB are characterised by a broad-range and overlapping specificity that anticipated the need for regulation at the genetic level. In this study we provide evidence for the existence of a genetic regulatory mechanism controlling AraL production.