The pigmentation (Pgm+) phenotype of Yersinia pestis encompasses a variety of different physiological traits, all of which are missing in Pgm- mutants. We have previously shown that loss of the Pgm+ phenotype is accompanied by the spontaneous deletion of at least 45 kb of chromosomal DNA, referred to as the pgm locus. Using chromosomal walking, we have now mapped the full extent of the pgm locus in Y. pestis strain KIM6+. Our results indicate that the locus spans 102 kb of DNA which is absent in the spontaneous Pgm- mutant, KIM6. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis PB1/0 contains sequences homologous to the entire pgm locus while only part of this region hybridized to Yersinia enterocolitica WA-LOX DNA. Restriction enzyme mapping and hybridization studies revealed the presence of a repetitive element at both ends of the pgm locus and in multiple copies elsewhere in the Y. pestis genome. This element may be responsible for generating the deletion.