Naturally occurring isolates of chloramphenicol-resistant bacteria commonly synthesise chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (EC 2.3.28; CAT) in amounts which are sufficient to account for the resistance phenotype and often harbour plasmids which carry the structural gene for CAT. The findings of CAT in such diverse prokaryotes as Proteus mirabilis, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Streptomyces sp., and a soil Flavobacterium has led to speculation concerning the origin and evolution of the more commonly observed CAT variants specified by plasmids in clinically important bacteria. To provide a more solid basis for studying the evolution and spread of CAT within prokaryotes we chose to determine the complete amino acid sequence of a type I variant of CAT, the variant known to be associated with most F-like plasmids conferring chloramphenicol resistance. The sequence has been determined by combining the results obtained from manual and automated sequential degradation with those obtained by mass spectrometry of peptides generated by enzymatic digestion. The directly determined primary structure is identical with that predicted by the DNA sequence analysis of the chloramphenicol resistance transponson Tn9 known to specify a type I variant of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase.