Two aldehyde dehydrogenases involved in the degradation of toluene and xylenes, namely, benzaldehyde dehydrogenase and 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde dehydrogenase, are encoded by the xylC and xylG genes, respectively, on TOL plasmid pWW0 of Pseudomonas putida. The nucleotide sequence of xylC was determined in this study. A protein exhibiting benzaldehyde dehydrogenase activity had been purified from cells of P. putida (pWW0) (J. P. Shaw and S. Harayama, Eur. J. Biochem. 191:705-714, 1990); however, the amino-terminal sequence of this protein does not correspond to that predicted from the xylC sequence but does correspond to that predicted from the xylG sequence. The protein purified in the earlier work was therefore 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (the xylG gene product). This conclusion was confirmed by the fact that this protein oxidized 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde (kcat/Km = 1.6 x 10(6) s-1 M-1) more efficiently than benzaldehyde (kcat/Km = 3.2 x 10(4) s-1 M-1). The xylC product, the genuine benzaldehyde dehydrogenase, was purified from extracts of P. putida (pWW0-161 delta rylG) which does not synthesize 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde dehydrogenase. The amino-terminal sequence of the purified protein corresponds to the amino-terminal sequence deduced from the xylC sequence. This enzyme efficiently oxidized benzaldehyde (kcat/Km = 1.7 x 10(7) s-1 M-1) and its analogs but did not oxidize 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde or its analogs.