When Escherichia coli is treated with penicillin, the envelopes bulge at the centre of the cells and the cells then lyse. The bulges expand into vesicle-like structures termed penicillin-induced vesicles. We have developed a method to isolate these structures and have shown that they contain mainly membrane proteins plus a high concentration of a 60 kDa protein. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of the protein is identical to that of GroEL protein. Western blotting analysis using anti-GroEL antibody showed that GroEL is indeed concentrated in the vesicles. Indirect immuno-fluorescence microscopy showed that GroEL protein is localized at the centre of the cells at the site of formation of FtsZ-rings. Localization of GroEL is dependent on FtsZ but not other Fts proteins. GroEL mutants formed elongated cells having no or asymmetrically localized FtsZ-rings at the restrictive temperature. These findings suggest a possible role of the GroEL protein in cell division.