A Staphylococcus epidermidis plasmid conferring inducible resistance to 14-membered ring macrolides and type B streptogramins has been analysed and the DNA sequence of the gene responsible for resistance determined. A single open reading frame of 1.464 kbp, preceded by a complex control region containing a promoter and two ribosomal binding sites, was identified. The deduced sequence of the 488-amino-acid protein (MsrA) revealed the presence of two ATP-binding motifs homologous to those of a family of transport-related proteins from Gram-negative bacteria and eukaryotic cells, including the P-glycoprotein responsible for multidrug resistance. In MsrA, but not these other proteins, the two potential ATP-binding domains are separated by a Q-linker of exceptional length. Q-linkers comprise a class of flexible interdomain fusion junctions that are typically rich in glutamine and other hydrophilic amino acids and have a characteristic spacing of hydrophobic amino acids, as found in the MsrA sequence. Unlike the other transport-related proteins, which act in concert with one or more hydrophobic membrane proteins, MsrA appears to function independently when cloned in a heterologous host (Staphylococcus aureus RN4220). MsrA might, therefore, interact with and confer antibiotic specificity upon other transmembrane efflux complexes of staphylococcal cells. The active efflux of [14C]-erythromycin from cells of S. aureus RN4220 containing msrA has been demonstrated.