Previous studies localized an alginate lyase gene (algL) within the alginate biosynthetic gene cluster at 34 min on the Pseudomonas aeruginosa chromosome. Insertion of a Tn501 polar transposon in a gene (algX) directly upstream of algL in mucoid P. aeruginosa FRD1 inactivated expression of algX, algL, and other downstream genes, including algA. This strain is phenotypically nonmucoid; however, alginate production could be restored by complementation in trans with a plasmid carrying all of the genes inactivated by the insertion, including algL and algX. Alginate production was also recovered when a merodiploid that generated a complete alginate gene cluster on the chromosome was constructed. However, alginate production by merodiploids formed in the algX::Tn501 mutant using an alginate cluster with an algL deletion was not restored to wild-type levels unless algL was provided on a plasmid in trans. In addition, complementation studies of Tn501 mutants using plasmids containing specific deletions in either algL or algX revealed that both genes were required to restore the mucoid phenotype. Escherichia coli strains which expressed algX produced a unique protein of approximately 53 kDa, consistent with the gene product predicted from the DNA sequencing data. These studies demonstrate that AlgX, whose biochemical function remains to be defined, and AlgL, which has alginate lyase activity, are both involved in alginate production by P. aeruginosa.