The pTiC58 plasmid noc genes of Agrobacterium tumefaciens C58 code for nopaline oxidase (nocC), nopaline permease (nocP), the inducible periplasmic protein n1 (nocB), and a function(s) required for ornithine catabolism (nocA). In addition, strains C58 and Ach-5 of A. tumefaciens have chromosomal ornithine catabolism genes. The chromosomal orc gene codes for ornithine dehydrogenase. Strain C58 is normally orc, but orc+ mutants can be selected. We have characterized both chromosomal orc and pTiC58 nocA plasmid genes. Complementation of most chromosomal orc mutants by pTiC58 restored growth on both nopaline and L-ornithine but did not restore ornithine dehydrogenase activity. We conclude that ornithine is an intermediate of nopaline degradation and that the Ti plasmid and chromosome both code for ornithine-degradative enzymes. A model for nopaline catabolism is presented.