Salmonella typhimurium produces H2S from thiosulfate or sulfite. The respective pathways for the two reductions must be distinct as mutants carrying motations in phs, chlA, and menB reduced sulfite, but not thiosulfate, to H2S, and glucose repressed the production of H2S from thiosulfate while it stimulated its production from sulfite. The phs and chlA mutants also lacked a methyl viologen-linked thiosulfate reductase activity present in anaerobically grown wild-type cultures. A number of hydroxylamine, transposon Tn10 insertion, and Mu d1(Apr lac) operon fusion mutants defective in phs were characterized. One of the hydroxylamine mutants was an amber mutant, as indicated by suppression of its mutation in a supD background. The temperature-sensitive phs mutants produced H2S and methyl viologen-linked thiosulfate reductase at 30 degrees C but not at 42 degrees C. The reductases in all such mutants grown at 30 degrees C were as thermostable as the wild-type enzyme and did not differ in electrophoretic relative mobility, suggesting that phs is not the structural gene for thiosulfate reductase. Expression of beta-galactosidase in phs::Mu d1(Apr lac) mutants was dependent on anaerobiosis and the presence of reduced sulfur. It was also strongly influenced by carbon source and growth stage. The results are consistent with a model in which the phs gene encodes a regulatory protein essential for the reduction of thiosulfate to hydrogen sulfide.