To find potential targets of novel antimicrobial agents, we identified essential genes of Streptococcus pneumoniae using comparative genomics and allelic replacement mutagenesis. We compared the genome of S. pneumoniae R6 with those of Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus, and selected 693 candidate target genes with > 40% amino acid sequence identity to the corresponding genes in at least two of the other species. The 693 genes were disrupted and 133 were found to be essential for growth. Of these, 32 encoded proteins of unknown function, and we were able to identify orthologues of 22 of these genes by genomic comparisons. The experimental method used in this study is easy to perform, rapid and efficient for identifying essential genes of bacterial pathogens.