Pseudomonas putida S-313 is able to desulphonate a broad range of aromatic sulphonates to provide sulphur for growth by monooxygenolytic cleavage to yield the corresponding phenol. After miniTn5 transposon mutagenesis of this strain, 11 mutants were isolated that were no longer able to utilize benzenesulphonate as a sulphur source. Three of these mutants were defective in the utilization of all aromatic sulphonates tested, but they grew normally with other sulphur sources. These strains contained independent insertions in the novel 4.2 kb asfRABC gene cluster, encoding a putative reductase (AsfA), a ferredoxin (AsfB), a putative periplasmic binding protein (AsfC), which was localized to the periplasm using alkaline phosphatase fusions, and a divergently oriented fourth gene, asfR, that encoded a LysR-type regulator protein. A further mutant was interrupted in the ssu locus, which includes the gene for a putative desulphonative monooxygenase. Transformation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with the asfRAB genes was sufficient to allow arylsulphonate utilization by this species, which does not normally use these compounds, suggesting that the AsfAB proteins may constitute an arylsulphonate-specific electron transport system that interacts with a less specific oxygenase. Expression of the asfABC genes in P. putida was induced by benzenesulphonate or toluenesulphonate, and it was repressed in the presence of sulphate in the growth medium. AsfR was a negative regulator of asfABC expression, and toluenesulphonate induced expression of these genes indirectly by reducing the expression of the asfR gene.