RNA was extracted at various times from cells infected with Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L1. Northern-blot analysis showed that transcription of the CrP gene encoding the 60-kDa cysteine-rich outer membrane protein (CrP) produces a temporally controlled polycistronic mRNA. Primer extension analysis indicated the presence of tandem promoters separated by 66 nt with transcriptional start points (tsp) located 577 and 643 nt upstream from the start codon of the mature 60-kDa CrP. Nucleotide (nt) sequencing of this region revealed a small open reading frame (SORF) with coding potential for an 88-amino acid protein containing 13 cysteine residues. This SORF is transcribed as both a polycistronic 2300-nt mRNA together with the CrP gene, and as a separate 480-nt mRNA. Analysis of the upstream sequences, around the tsp for these mRNAs, revealed the presence of three inverted repeat structures that might act as binding domain(s) for a regulatory protein.