Transcription of the cob/pdu regulon of Salmonella typhimurium is activated by the PocR regulatory protein in response to 1,2-propanediol (1,2-PDL) in the environment. Nutritional analysis and DNA sequencing confirmed that a strain defective in expression of the cob/pdu regulon in response to 1,2-PDL lacked a functional gshA gene. gshA encodes gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (L-glutamate:L-cysteine gamma-ligase [ADP forming]; EC 18.104.22.168), the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in the synthesis of glutathione (GSH). The DNA sequence of gshA was partially determined, and the location of gshA in the chromosome was established by two-factor crosses. P22 cotransduction of gshA with nearby markers showed 21% linkage to srl and 1% linkage to hyd; srl was 9% cotransducible with hyd. In light of these data, the gene order gshA srl hyd is suggested. The level of reduced thiols in the gshA strain was 87% lower than the levels measured in the wild-type strain in both aerobically and anaerobically grown cells. 1,2-PDL-dependent transcription of cob/pdu was studied by using M. Casadaban's Mu-lacZ fusions. In aerobically grown cells, transcription of a cbi-lacZ fusion (the cbi genes are the subset of cob genes that encode functions needed for the synthesis of the corrin ring) was 4-fold lower and transcription of a pdu-lacZ fusion was 10-fold lower in a gshA mutant than in the wild-type strain. Expression of the cob/pdu regulon in response to 1,2-PDL was restored when GSH was included in the medium. In anaerobically grown cells, cbi-lacZ transcription was only 0.4-fold lower than in the gshA+ strain; pdu-lacZ transcription was reduced only by 0.34-fold, despite the lower thiol levels in the mutant. cobA-lacZ transcription was used as negative control of gene whose transcription is not controlled by the PocR/1,2-PDL system; under both conditions, cobA transcription remained unaffected. The gshA mutant strain was unable to utilize 1,2-PDL, ethanolamine, or propionate as a carbon and energy source. The defect in ethanolamine utilization appears to be at the level of ethanolamine ammonia-lyase activity, not at the transcriptional level. Possible roles for GSH in ethanolamine, 1,2-PDL, and propionate catabolism are proposed and discussed.