The nucleotide sequence of the Bacillus anthracis edema factor (EF) gene (cya), which encodes a calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase, has been determined. EF is part of the tripartite protein exotoxin of B. anthracis. An ATG start codon, immediately upstream from codons which specify the first 15 amino acids (aa) of EF, was preceded by an AAAGGAGGT sequence which is its probable ribosome-binding site. Starting at this ATG codon, there was a continuous 2400-bp open reading frame which encodes the 800-aa EF-precursor protein with a Mr of 92,464. The mature, secreted protein (767 aa; Mr 88,808) was preceded by a 33-aa signal peptide which has characteristics in common with leader peptides for other secreted proteins of the Bacillus species. A consensus amino acid sequence (Gly-X-X-X-X-Gly-Lys-Ser,X = any aa), which was part of the presumed ATP binding site for EF, was also present. The codon usage of the EF gene reflected the high A + T (71%) base composition for its DNA. B. anthracis EF was not related to the Escherichia coli or yeast adenylate cyclases, but was related to the Bordetella pertussis calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase.