We report the nucleotide sequence and the characterization of the Bacillus subtilis tagGH operon. The latter is controlled by a sigma A-dependent promoter and situated in the 308 degrees chromosomal region which contains genes involved in teichoic acid biosynthesis. TagG is a hydrophobic 32.2 kDa protein which resembles integral membrane proteins belonging to polymer-export systems of Gram-negative bacteria. Gene tagH encodes a 59.9 kDa protein whose N-moiety contains the ATP-binding motif and shares extensive homology with a number of ATP-binding proteins, particularly with those associated with the transport of capsular polysaccharides and O-antigens. That the tagGH operon is essential for cell growth was established by the failure to inactivate tagG and the 5'-moiety of tagH by insertional mutagenesis. During limited tagGH expression, cells exhibited a cocoid morphology while their walls contained reduced amounts of phosphate as well as galactosamine. These observations, revealing impaired metabolism of both wall teichoic acids of B. subtilis 168, i.e. poly(glycerol phosphate), and poly(glucose galactosamine phosphate), combined with sequence homologies, suggest that TagG and TagH are involved in the translocation through the cytoplasmic membrane of the latter teichoic acids or their precursors.