Burkholderia cepacia produces at least one extracellular zinc metalloprotease that may be involved in virulence. A B. cepacia zinc metalloprotease gene was cloned using a Burkholderia pseudomallei zinc metalloprotease gene as a probe. The predicted amino acid sequences of these B. cepacia and a B. pseudomallei extracellular zinc metalloproteases indicate that they are similar to the thermolysin-like family of metalloproteases (M4 family of metalloendopeptidases) and they are likely to be secreted via the general secretory pathway. zmpA isogenic mutants were constructed in B. cepacia genomovar III strains Pc715j and K56-2 by insertional inactivation of the zmpA genes. The zmpA mutants produced less protease than the parent strains. The B. cepacia strain K56-2 zmpA mutant was significantly less virulent than its parent strain in a chronic respiratory infection model; however, there was no difference between the virulence of B. cepacia strain Pc715j and a Pc715j zmpA mutant. The results indicate that this extracellular zinc metalloprotease may play a greater role in virulence in some strains of B. cepacia.