The O antigen of Salmonella group B strains contains the sugar abequose, whereas those from group A and D strains contain paratose or tyvelose in its place. This is the essential difference between these Salmonella groups. Only the final step in the biosynthesis of abequose differs from that of paratose, and the abequose confers on group B strains their specific O4 antigen. The gene, rfbJ, encoding the enzyme abequose synthase for this last specific step has been cloned, identified, and sequenced and has been shown to function in group A and D strains to make them O4+. This one gene thus differentiates group B from group A or group D salmonellae. The enzyme abequose synthase appears to be related to galactose epimerase, and the significance of this is discussed. The rfbJ gene and adjacent DNA is of much lower G+C content than is usual for salmonellae, indicating that the region did not originate in a salmonella but was transferred from outside.