A population of Tn5 mutagenized Rhizobium leguminosarum cells was screened for mutants affected in protein secretion by introducing a plasmid carrying the Erwinia chrysanthemi prtB gene and screening for mutants defective in secretion of the protease PrtB. One such mutant (A301) also appeared to be defective in secretion of the R. leguminosarum nodulation protein NodO. Genetic analysis showed that the defect in A301 was caused by the Tn5 insertion. However the DNA sequence adjacent to the site of Tn5 insertion had significant homology to the Escherichia coli polA gene, which encodes DNA polymerase I. The mutant A301 showed increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light, a characteristic of polA mutants of E. coli. The apparent defect in secretion by A301 was due to a large decrease in the copy number of the IncQ group replicon on which prtB and nodO were cloned and this decreased the total amounts of PrtB or NodO protein synthesised and secreted by the polA mutant. The polA mutant had a lower growth rate than the parent strain on both rich and minimal media, but there was no obvious effect of the polA mutation on the symbiosis of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae with pea.