We have analyzed the evolution of the three genes encoding structural enzymes of the arginine deiminase (ADI) pathway, arginine deiminase (ADI), ornithine transcarbamoylase (OTC), and carbamate kinase (CK) in a wide range of organisms, including Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. This catabolic route was probably present in the last common ancestor to all the domains of life. The results obtained indicate that these genes have undergone a complex evolutionary history, including horizontal transfer events, duplications, and losses. Therefore, these genes are not adequate to infer organismal relationships at deep branching levels, but they provide an insight into how catabolic genes evolved and were assembled into metabolic pathways. Our results suggest that the three genes evolved independently and were later assembled into a single cluster with functional interdependence, thus, providing support for the gene recruitment hypothesis. Furthermore, the molecular phylogenetic analysis of OTC suggests a new classification of these genes into three subfamilies.