Metapyrocatechase which catalyzes the oxygenative ring cleavage of catechol to form alpha-hydroxymuconic epsilon-semialdehyde is encoded by the xylE gene on the TOL plasmid of Pseudomonas putida mt-2. We have cloned the xylE region in Escherichia coli and determined the nucleotide sequence of the DNA fragment of 985 base pairs around the gene. The fragment included only one open translational frame of sufficient length to accommodate the enzyme. The predicted amino acid sequence consisted of 307 residues, and its NH2- and COOH-terminal sequences were in perfect agreement with those of the enzyme recently determined (Nakai, C., Hori, K., Kagamiyama, H., Nakazawa, T., and Nozaki, M. (1983) J. Biol. Chem. 258, 2916-2922). A mutant plasmid was isolated which did not direct the synthesis of the active enzyme. This plasmid had a DNA region corresponding to the NH2-terminal two-thirds of the polypeptide. From the deduced amino acid sequence, the secondary structure was predicted. Around 10 base pairs upstream from the initiator codon for metapyrocatechase, there was a base sequence which was complementary to the 3'-end of 16 S rRNAs from both E.coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A preferential usage of C- and G-terminated codons was found in the coding region xylE, which contributed to the relatively high G + C content (57%) of this gene.