Ribosomal RNAs undergo several nucleotide modifications including methylation. We identify FtsJ, the first encoded protein of the ftsJ-hflB heat shock operon, as an Escherichia coli methyltransferase of the 23 S rRNA. The methylation reaction requires S-adenosylmethionine as donor of methyl groups, purified FtsJ or a S(150) supernatant from an FtsJ-producing strain, and ribosomes from an FtsJ-deficient strain. In vitro, FtsJ does not efficiently methylate ribosomes purified from a strain producing FtsJ, suggesting that these ribosomes are already methylated in vivo by FtsJ. FtsJ is active on ribosomes and on the 50 S ribosomal subunit, but is inactive on free rRNA, suggesting that its natural substrate is ribosomes or a pre-ribosomal ribonucleoprotein particle. We identified the methylated nucleotide as 2'-O-methyluridine 2552, by reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography analysis, boronate affinity chromatography, and hybridization-protection experiments. In view of its newly established function, FtsJ is renamed RrmJ and its encoding gene, rrmJ.