Burkholderia mallei is the etiologic agent of glanders in solipeds (horses, mules and donkeys), and incidentally in carnivores and humans. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms of B. mallei pathogenesis. The putative carboxy-terminal processing protease (CtpA) of B. mallei is a member of a novel family of endoproteases involved in the maturation of proteins destined for the cell envelope. All species and isolates of Burkholderia carry a highly conserved copy of ctpA. We studied the involvement of CtpA on growth, cell morphology, persistence, and pathogenicity of B. mallei. A sucrose-resistant strain of B. mallei was constructed by deleting a major portion of the sacB gene of the wild type strain ATCC 23344 by gene replacement, and designated as strain 23344DeltasacB. A portion of the ctpA gene (encoding CtpA) of strain 23344DeltasacB was deleted by gene replacement to generate strain 23344DeltasacBDeltactpA. In contrast to the wild type ATCC 23344 or the sacB mutant 23344DeltasacB, the ctpA mutant 23344DeltasacBDeltactpA displayed altered cell morphologies with partially or fully disintegrated cell envelopes. Furthermore, relative to the wild type, the ctpA mutant displayed slower growth in vitro and less ability to survive in J774.2 murine macrophages. The expression of mRNA of adtA, the gene downstream of ctpA was similar among the three strains suggesting that disruption of ctpA did not induce any polar effects. As with the wild type or the sacB mutant, the ctpA mutant exhibited a dose-dependent lethality when inoculated intraperitoneally into CD1 mice. The CD1 mice inoculated with a non-lethal dose of the ctpA mutant produced specific serum immunoglobulins IgG1 and IgG2a and were partially protected against challenge with wild type B. mallei ATCC 23344. These findings suggest that CtpA regulates in vitro growth, cell morphology and intracellular survival of B. mallei, and a ctpA mutant protects CD1 mice against glanders.