The intracellular growth and virulence of Salmonella serovar Typhimurium for mice is dependent on a plasmid-borne gene cluster termed mka. We studied the regulatory interactions of the genes mkaA, mkaB, mkaC and mkaD using lacZ gene fusions. Complementation experiments with cloned DNA fragments encoding each of the four MKa proteins indicated that mkaC enhances the expression of beta-galactosidase from the mkaA-, mkaB- and mkaC-lacZ gene fusions in trans. An mkaD-lacZ fusion or mkaA-lacZ fusion that did not contain DNA proximal to mkaB was not inducible with MkaC, indicating that at least mkaB and mkaA are induced together as an operon. MkaC is thus the first virulence protein whose function has been resolved.