The complete nucleotide sequence of the rpoB gene which encodes the beta subunit of S. aureus RNA polymerase has been determined. The RpoB protein, consists of 1182 amino acids and has a novel initiation codon UUG which initiates protein synthesis with methionine. There is a very strong Shine-Dalgarno complementarity and the -10 and -35 promoter hexameric sequences are TAATAT and CCGTTT, respectively. A rho-dependent termination site, CAATCAA, is present which overlaps the -35 promoter sequence of the adjacent rpoC gene a feature which may have a role in the co-ordinate expression of the two genes. A strong homology and conserved regions were found to exist over the predicted amino acid sequences coding for S. aureus rpoB and the equivalent proteins in Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas putida, Salmonella typhimurium, Chlamydia trachomatis, cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120.