Two iron-regulated compounds have been found in acidified ethyl acetate extracts from culture supernatants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas cepacia type-strains. Synthesis of both compounds paralleled iron-deficient growth, and was repressed in the presence of 100 microM-FeCl3. Yields of these substances varied among different strains and attained maximum levels during stationary phase. Thin layer chromatographic analysis in five different solvent systems revealed that the slower-moving compound chromatographed as two distinct bands, and showed RF values and spectral properties similar to pyochelin. The faster-moving compound co-migrated as a single band with a standard of commercial salicylic acid in each of the chromatographic systems tested. Moreover, a molecule with an identical RF was also produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA401, which is known to synthesize salicylic acid as the only siderophore during iron-limited growth. Spectrophotometric and spectrofluorometric titrations led to the identification of this iron-regulated compound as salicylic acid, in agreement with the structure deduced from 1H-NMR and mass spectroscopy. The identity of the P. cepacia siderophore azurechelin as salicylic acid was also conclusively demonstrated. Salicylic acid, like pyochelin and pyoverdin, promoted P. aeruginosa growth in an iron-depleted medium. These results are consistent with a putative siderophore activity for salicylic acid, i.e. azurechelin, as has been demonstrated for P. aeruginosa, P. fluorescens and P. cepacia. Thus, salicylic acid is likely to act as a siderophore in more than one species belonging to the genus Pseudomonas.