We reported earlier the identification of two Azotobacter vinelandii open reading frames (ORFs), ORF1 and ORF2, downstream from the hydrogenase structural genes (Chen, J.C. and Mortenson, L.E. (1992) Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1131, 122-124). Sequencing of 6008 base pairs of DNA immediately downstream from ORF2 revealed six additional ORFs (ORF3 through ORF8). All six ORFs are transcribed from the same DNA strand as that of the ORF1 and ORF2. Deduced amino acid sequences of ORF3 through ORF5, and those of ORF4, ORF5, ORF7 and ORF8 have strong homology with genes required for dihydrogen (H2) metabolism in Rhodobacter capsulatus and in Escherichia coli, respectively. ORF4, ORF5, ORF6 and ORF8 would encode for polypeptides containing one or more 'Cys-X-X-Cys' motifs. The predicted products of ORF5 and ORF6 each contain a histidine-rich region, and the product of ORF5 also includes a 'Cys-Thr-Val-Cys-Gly-Cys' region near its amino-terminus. Implications of these findings with respect to metal binding, transport and incorporation, to hydrogenase assembly and to H2 metabolism are discussed.