The lysis genes of the Lactobacillus gasseri bacteriophage phi adh were isolated by complementation of a lambda Sam mutation in Escherichia coli. Nucleotide sequencing of a 1,735-bp DNA fragment revealed two adjacent coding regions of 342 bp (hol) and 951 bp (lys) in the same reading frame which appear to belong to a common transcriptional unit. Proteins corresponding to the predicted gene products, holin (12.9 kDa) and lysin (34.7 kDa), were identified by in vitro and in vivo expression of the cloned genes. The phi adh holin is a membrane-bound protein with structural similarity to lysis proteins of other phage, known to be required for the transit of murein hydrolases through the cytoplasmic membrane. The phi adh lysin shows homology with mureinolytic enzymes encoded by the Lactobacillus bulgaricus phage mv4, the Streptococcus pneumoniae phage Cp-1, Cp-7, and Cp-9, and the Lactococcus lactis phage phi LC3. Significant homology with the N termini of known muramidases suggests that phi adh lysin acts by a similar catalytic mechanism. In E. coli, the phi adh lysin seems to be associated with the total membrane fraction, from which it can be extracted with lauryl sarcosinate. Either one of the phi adh lysis proteins provoked lysis of E. coli when expressed along with holins or lysins of phage lambda or Bacillus subtilis phage phi 29. Concomitant expression of the combined holin and lysin functions of phi adh in E. coli, however, did not result in efficient cell lysis.