We have determined the nucleotide sequence of the pbpA gene encoding penicillin-binding protein (PBP) 2 of Escherichia coli. The coding region for PBP 2 was 1899 base pairs in length and was preceded by a possible promoter sequence and two open reading frames. The primary structure of PBP 2, deduced from the nucleotide sequence, comprised 633 amino acid residues. The relative molecular mass was calculated to be 70867. The deduced sequence agreed with the NH2-terminal sequence of PBP 2 purified from membranes, suggesting that PBP 2 has no signal peptide. The hydropathy profile suggested that the NH2-terminal hydrophobic region (a stretch of 25 non-ionic amino acids) may anchor PBP 2 in the cytoplasmic membrane as an ectoprotein. There were nine homologous segments in the amino acid sequence of PBP 2 when compared with PBP 3 of E. coli. The active-site serine residue of PBP 2 was predicted to be Ser-330. Around this putative active-site serine residue was found the conserved sequence of Ser-Xaa-Xaa-Lys, which has been identified in all of the other E. coli PBPs so far studied (PBPs 1A, 1B, 3, 5 and 6) and class A and class C beta-lactamases. In the higher-molecular-mass PBPs 1A, 1B, 2 and 3, Ser-Xaa-Xaa-Lys-Pro was conserved. In the putative peptidoglycan transpeptidase domain there were six amino acid residues, which are common only in the PBPs of higher molecular mass.