Alnumycin is closely related to the benzoisochromanequinone (BIQ) polyketides such as actinorhodin. Exceptional structural features include differences in aglycone tailoring that result in the unique alnumycin chromophore and the existence of an unusual 4-hydroxymethyl-5-hydroxy-1,3-dioxan moiety. Cloning and sequencing of the alnumycin gene cluster from Streptomyces sp. CM020 revealed expected biosynthesis genes for polyketide assembly, but several genes encoding subsequent tailoring enzymes were highly atypical. Heterologous expression studies confirmed that all of the genes required for alnumycin biosynthesis resided within the sequenced clone. Inactivation of genes aln4 and aln5 showed that the mechanism of pyran ring formation differs from actinorhodin and granaticin pathways. Further inactivation studies identified two genes, alnA and alnB, involved in the synthesis and attachment of the dioxan moiety, and resulted in the production of the polyketide prealnumycin.