Within the bacterial flagellum the basal-body rod, the hook, the hook-associated proteins (HAPs), and the helical filament constitute an axial substructure whose elements share structural features and a common export pathway. We present here the amino acid sequences of the hook protein and the three HAPs of Salmonella typhimurium, as deduced from the DNA sequences of their structural genes (flgE, flgK, flgL and fliD, respectively). We compared these sequences with each other and with those for the filament protein (flagellin) and four rod proteins, which have been described previously (Joys, 1985; Homma et al., 1990; Smith & Selander, 1990). Hook protein most strongly resembled the distal rod protein (FlgG) and the proximal HAP (HAP1), which are thought to be attached to the proximal and distal ends of the hook, respectively; the similarities were most pronounced near the N and C termini. Hook protein and flagellin, which occupy virtually identical helical lattices, did not resemble each other strongly but showed some limited similarities near their termini. HAP3 and HAP2, which form the proximal and distal boundaries of the filament, showed few similarities to flagellin, each other, or the other axial proteins. With the exceptions of the N-terminal region of HAP2, and the C-terminal region of flagellin, proline residues were absent from the terminal regions of the axial proteins. Moreover, with the exception of the N-terminal region of HAP2, the terminal regions contained hydrophobic residues at intervals of seven residues. Together, these observations suggest that the axial proteins may have amphipathic alpha-helical structure at their N and C termini. In the case of the filament and the hook, the terminal regions are believed to be responsible for the quaternary interactions between subunits. We suggest that this is likely to be true of the other axial structures as well, and specifically that interaction between N-terminal and C-terminal alpha-helices may be important in the formation of the axial structures of the flagellum. Although consensus sequences were noted among some of the proteins, such as the rod, hook and HAP1, no consensus extended to the entire set of axial proteins. Thus the basis for recognition of a protein for export by the flagellum-specific pathway remains to be identified.