Bacillus subtilis RB14 is a producer of the antifungal lipopeptide iturin A. Using a transposon, we identified and cloned the iturin A synthetase operon of RB14, and the sequence of this operon was also determined. The iturin A operon spans a region that is more than 38 kb long and is composed of four open reading frames, ituD, ituA, ituB, and ituC. The ituD gene encodes a putative malonyl coenzyme A transacylase, whose disruption results in a specific deficiency in iturin A production. The second gene, ituA, encodes a 449-kDa protein that has three functional modules homologous to fatty acid synthetase, amino acid transferase, and peptide synthetase. The third gene, ituB, and the fourth gene, ituC, encode 609- and 297-kDa peptide synthetases that harbor four and two amino acid modules, respectively. Mycosubtilin, which is produced by B. subtilis ATCC 6633, has almost the same structure as iturin A, but the amino acids at positions 6 and 7 in the mycosubtilin sequence are D-Ser-->L-Asn, while in iturin A these amino acids are inverted (i.e., D-Asn-->L-Ser). Comparison of the amino acid sequences encoded by the iturin A operon and the mycosubtilin operon revealed that ituD, ituA, and ituB have high levels of homology to the counterpart genes fenF (79%), mycA (79%), and mycB (79%), respectively. Although the overall level of homology of the amino acid sequences encoded by ituC and mycC, the counterpart of ituC, is relatively low (64%), which indicates that there is a difference in the amino acid sequences of the two lipopeptides, the levels of homology between the putative serine adenylation domains and between the asparagine adenylation domains in the two synthetases are high (79 and 80%, respectively), implying that there is an intragenic domain change in the synthetases. The fact that the flanking sequence of the iturin A synthetase coding region was highly homologous to the flanking sequence that of xynD of B. subtilis 168 and the fact that the promoter of the iturin A operon which we identified was also conserved in an upstream sequence of xynD imply that horizontal transfer of this operon occurred. When the promoter was replaced by the repU promoter of the plasmid pUB110 replication protein, production of iturin A increased threefold.