Paenibacillus sp. (formerly Bacillus macerans) strain JJ-1b is able to grow on 4-hydroxybenzoate (4HB) as a sole source of carbon and energy and is known to degrade 4HB via the protocatechuate (PCA) 2,3-cleavage pathway. However, none of the genes involved in this pathway have been identified. In this study, we identified and characterized the JJ-1b genes for the 4HB catabolic pathway via the PCA 2,3-cleavage pathway, which consisted of praR and praABEGFDCHI. Based on the enzyme activities of cell extracts of Escherichia coli carrying praI, praA, praH, praB, praC, and praD, these genes were found to code for 4HB 3-hydroxylase, PCA 2,3-dioxygenase, 5-carboxy-2-hydroxymuconate-6-semialdehyde decarboxylase, 2-hydroxymuconate-6-semialdehyde dehydrogenase, 4-oxalocrotonate (OCA) tautomerase, and OCA decarboxylase, respectively, which are involved in the conversion of 4HB into 2-hydroxypenta-2,4-dienoate (HPD). The praE, praF, and praG gene products exhibited 45 to 61% amino acid sequence identity to the corresponding enzymes responsible for the catabolism of HPD to pyruvate and acetyl coenzyme A. The deduced amino acid sequence of praR showed similarity with those of IclR-type transcriptional regulators. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis revealed that praABEGFDCHI constitute an operon, and these genes were expressed during the growth of JJ-1b on 4HB and PCA. praR-praABEGFDCHI conferred the ability to grow on 4HB to E. coli, suggesting that praEGF were functional for the conversion of HPD to pyruvate and acetyl coenzyme A. A promoter analysis suggested that praR encodes a repressor of the pra operon.