The ftsH mutant Y16 shows thermosensitive filamentation with reduced amounts of penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3) (Ferreira et al., 1987). Genetic analysis, however, showed that the lethality of the ftsH mutation was not due to a lack of PBP3 activity alone. The ftsH gene was cloned and sequenced and the FtsH protein was deduced to be a membrane protein of 70.7 kDa which has an ATP-binding domain. Highly significant homology of amino acid sequence was observed between FtsH protein and two eukaryotic proteins, yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sec 18p and its mammalian homologue NSF, which are involved in protein transport pathways. This suggests that FtsH protein may act for translocation of specific proteins including PBP3 and at least one other additional protein essential for cell growth. Suppressor mutants of Y16, which were able to grow at 42 degrees C, were isolated, and the suppressor mutations (sfh) were mapped to 16 min. A wild type chromosomal fragment able to complement the sfh mutations was cloned. We also identified another gene (ftsJ) affecting cell division in the region upstream of the ftsH gene.