Development of penicillin resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae is due to successive mutations in penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) which reduce their affinity for beta-lactam antibiotics. PBP2x is one of the high-Mr PBPs which appears to be altered both in resistant clinical isolates, and in cefotaxime-resistant laboratory mutants. In this study, we have sequenced a 2564 base-pair chromosomal fragment from the penicillin-sensitive S. pneumoniae strain R6, which contains the PBP2x gene. Within this fragment, a 2250 base-pair open reading frame was found which coded for a protein having an Mr of 82.35kD, a value which is in good agreement with the Mr of 80-85 kD measured by SDS-gel electrophoresis of the PBP2x protein itself. The N-terminal region resembled an unprocessed signal peptide and was followed by a hydrophobic sequence that may be responsible for membrane attachment of PBP2x. The corresponding nucleotide sequence of the PBP2x gene from C504, a cefotaxime-resistant laboratory mutant obtained after five selection steps, contained three nucleotide substitutions, causing three amino acid alterations within the beta-lactam binding domain of the PBP2x protein. Alterations affecting similar regions of Escherichia coli PBP3 and Neisseria gonorrhoeae PBP2 from beta-lactam-resistant strains are known. The penicillin-binding domain of PBP2x shows highest homology with these two PBPs and S. pneumoniae PBP2b. In contrast, the N-terminal extension of PBP2x has the highest homology with E. coli PBP2 and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus PBP2'. No significant homology was detected with PBP1a or PBP1b of Escherichia coli, or with the low-Mr PBPs.