The virulent Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage SPP1 encapsidates its DNA by a headful mechanism. Analyzing phage missense mutants, which package less DNA than SPP1 wild-type but show no other affected properties, we have identified a gene whose product is involved in the sizing of phage DNA during maturation. Characterization of this gene and its product provides an experimental access to the poorly understood mechanism of DNA sizing in packaging. The gene (gene 6 or siz) was cloned and sequenced. An open reading frame (ORF) coding for a 57.3 kDa polypeptide was identified. All the single nucleotide substitutions present in different siz mutants affect the net charge of that protein. The gene was further characterized by assignment of several nonsense mutations (sus) to the ORF. Phages carrying the latter type of mutations could be complemented in trans when gene 6 is provided by a plasmid.