The calmodulin-sensitive adenylate cyclase of Bordetella pertussis, a 45 kd secreted protein, is synthesized as a 1706 amino acid precursor. We have shown that this precursor is a bifunctional protein, carrying both adenylate cyclase and haemolytic activities. The 1250 carboxy-terminal amino acids of the precursor showed 25% similarity with Escherichia coli alpha-haemolysin (HlyA) and 22% similarity with Pasteurella haemolytica leucotoxin. Three open reading frames were identified downstream from the cyaA gene: cyaB, cyaD and cyaE, coding for polypeptides of 712, 440 and 474 amino acid residues, respectively. As for E. coli alpha-haemolysin, secretion of B.pertussis adenylate cyclase and haemolysin requires the expression of additional genes. The gene products of cyaB and cyaD are highly similar to HlyB and HlyD, known to be necessary for the transport of HlyA across the cell envelope and for its release into the external medium. Complementation and functional studies indicate that the B.pertussis adenylate cyclase-haemolysin bifunctional protein is secreted by a mechanism similar to that described for E.coli alpha-haemolysin, requiring, in addition to the cyaB and cyaD gene products, the presence of a third gene product specified by the cyaE gene.