A gene encoding a polypeptide of 25 kDa is located immediately upstream of the gene for ribosomal protein S1, rpsA. In high gene copy number, this gene, mssA, was previously found to suppress defects in smbA, which is now known to be identical to pyrH, encoding UMP kinase. We show here that the 25-kDa polypeptide comprises CMP kinase and propose that the gene be designated cmk. In a strain deleted for cmk, the pools of CMP and dCMP were elevated approximately 30-fold. We constructed a plasmid from which synthesis of CMP kinase was regulated by the lac promoter-operator and measured the synthesis rates for RNA and DNA after induction in the delta cmk/lacPO-cmk+ strain. A specific increase in the rate of DNA synthesis was observed. Further analyses showed that the replication elongation rate was halved in the delta cmk strain, most likely caused by the reductions of the dCTP and dTTP pools to 30 and 70%, respectively, of the levels in the parental strain, but that this was compensated for by a doubling in the frequency of initiation. The delta cmk strain is viable at 37 degrees C but cold sensitive. The cold sensitivity may be related to defects in the synthesis of phospholipids or lipopolysaccharides. In addition to the physiological studies, the region upstream of cmk was sequenced, and 120 codons with strong homology to an uncharacterized protein of the speB operon were identified.