The phenotype of Escherichia coli appR pleiotropic mutants has been compared with that of mutants in the katF gene, which lies in the same region and controls expression of catalase HPII (katE) and exonuclease III (xth). All the described characters of appR mutants--reduced pH 2.5 acid phosphatase level, overexpression of alkaline phosphatase and ability of crp or cya mutants to utilize some CAP + cAMP-dependent carbon sources--were reproduced by a katF:: Tn10 insertion. In all cases, the wild-type phenotype was restored by the presence of a plasmid-borne katF+ gene. Conversely, spontaneous appR mutants were hypersensitive to H2O2 to the same degree as katF mutants. We conclude that the appR gene is identical to katF, which encodes a putative new sigma factor (Mulvey and Loewen, 1989).