In these studies, the Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase toxin-hemolysin homology to the Escherichia coli hemolysin is extended with the finding of cyaC, a homolog to the E. coli hlyC gene, which is required for the production of a functional hemolysin molecule in E. coli. Mutations produced in the chromosome of B. pertussis upstream from the structural gene for the adenylate cyclase toxin revealed a region which was necessary for toxin and hemolytic activities of the molecule. These mutants produced the 216-kDa adenylate cyclase toxin as determined by Western blot (immunoblot) analysis. The adenylate cyclase enzymatic activities of these mutants were equivalent to that of wild type, but toxin activities were less than 1% of that of wild type, and the mutants were nonhemolytic on blood agar plates and in in vitro assays. The upstream region restored hemolytic activity when returned in trans to the mutant strains. This genetic complementation defined a gene which acts in trans to activate the adenylate cyclase toxin posttranslationally. Sequence analysis of the upstream region defined an open reading frame with homology to the E. coli hlyC gene. In contrast to E. coli, this open reading frame is oriented oppositely from the adenylate cyclase toxin structural gene.