We have deduced the nucleotide sequence of the genes encoding the three components of 4-chlorobenzoate (4-CBA) dehalogenase from Pseudomonas sp. CBS-3 and examined the origin of these proteins by homology analysis. Open reading frame 1 (ORF1) encodes a 30-kDa 4-CBA-coenzyme A dehalogenase related to enoyl-coenzyme A hydratases functioning in fatty acid beta-oxidation. ORF2 encodes a 57-kDa protein which activates 4-CBA by acyl adenylation/thioesterification. This 4-CBA:coenzyme A ligase shares significant sequence similarity with a large group of proteins, many of which catalyze similar chemistry in beta-oxidation pathways or in siderophore and antibiotic synthetic pathways. These proteins have in common a short stretch of sequence, (T,S)(S,G)G(T,S)(T,E)G(L,X)PK(G,-), which is particularly highly conserved and which may represent an important new class of "signature" sequence. We were unable to find any proteins homologous in sequence to the 16-kDa 4-hydroxybenzoate-coenzyme A thioesterase encoded by ORF3. Analysis of the chemistry and function of the proteins found to be structurally related to the 4-CBA:coenzyme A ligase and the 4-CBA-coenzyme A dehalogenase supports the proposal that they evolved from a beta-oxidation pathway.