A relaxed (rel) mutant was found among 70 thiopeptin-resistant isolates of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) which arose spontaneously. The ability of the rel mutant to accumulate ppGpp during Casamino acid deprivation was reduced 10-fold compared to the wild-type. Analysis of the ribosomal proteins by two-dimensional PAGE revealed that the mutant lacked a ribosomal protein, tentatively designated ST-L11. It was therefore classified as a relC mutant. The mutant was defective in producing A-factor and the pigmented antibiotic prodigiosin, in both liquid and agar cultures, but produced agarase normally. Production of actinorhodin, another pigmented antibiotic, was also abnormal; it appeared suddenly in agar cultures after 10 d incubation. Although aerial mycelium still formed, its appearance was markedly delayed. Whereas liquid cultures of the parent strain accumulated ppGpp, agar cultures accumulated only trace amounts. Instead, a substance characterized only as an unidentified HPLC peak accumulated intracellularly in the late growth phase, just before aerial mycelium formation and antibiotic production. This substance did not accumulate in mutant cells. It was found in S. lividans 66 and S. parvulus, but not in seven other Streptomyces species tested. The significance of these observations, and the relationship of the mutant to earlier rel isolates of Streptomyces is discussed.