From a genomic library of Chromatium vinosum strain D in lambda L47, a 16.5-kbp EcoRI-restriction fragment was identified by hybridization with a DNA fragment harboring the operon for Alcaligenes eutrophus poly(3-hydroxyalkanoate) (PHA) synthesis. This fragment and subfragments thereof restored the ability to synthesize and accumulate PHA in PHA-negative mutants of A. eutrophus. A region of 6977 bp was sequenced; seven open reading frames (ORFs) were identified which probably represent coding regions; six of these are most probably relevant for PHA biosynthesis in C. vinosum. The structural genes for biosynthetic acetyl-CoA acyltransferase (beta-ketothiolase; phbACv, 1188 bp) and NADH-dependent acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (phbBCv, 741 bp) were separated by ORF4 (462 bp) and ORF5 (369 bp). Downstream of phbBCv ORF7 (471 pb) was identified which was not completed at the 3' terminus. The functions of ORF4, ORF5, and ORF7 are not known. The amino acid sequences of beta-ketothiolase and acetoacetyl-CoA reductase deduced from phbACv and phbBCv, exhibited a similarity of 68.2% and 56.4% identical amino acids, respectively, to the corresponding enzymes of A. eutrophus. Antilinear to and upstream of the genes mentioned above, two genes were identified which were transcribed from a sigma 70-dependent promoter. This promoter overlapped with and was divergent to the phbACv promoter; the transcriptional start sites were mapped by S1 nuclease protection assays. These genes were ORF2 (1074 bp), whose function is not known but whose presence in Escherichia coli is essential for expression of PHA synthase activity, and the structural gene for a PHA synthase of low M(r) (phbCCv, 1068 bp). The gene products of ORF2 and phbCCv, with M(r) of 40,525 and 39,730, respectively, were expressed in E. coli applying the T7 RNA polymerase/promoter system. Although the amino acid sequence of PHA synthase deduced from phbCCv exhibited only 24.7% overall similarity with the PHA synthase of A. eutrophus, highly conserved regions were identified.