We have established the co-linear regions of Bacillus licheniformis, an industrially important bacterium, and Bacillus subtilis, a model bacterium. In the co-linear regions, revealed by PCR, gene content and order are presumed to be conserved. These regions constitute approximately 60% of the compared chromosomes. Sequencing of the competence genes of B. licheniformis allowed us to validate the approach, and to demonstrate how it can be used for the comparative analysis of complex genetic systems. A new insertion sequence, designated IS3Bli1, was discovered in the competence region of the analyzed B. licheniformis strain.