The nucleotide (nt) sequence of a 9704-bp EcoRI fragment of Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp) type-3 DNA has been determined and found to contain one partial and five complete open reading frames (ORFs). One of these ORFs corresponds to the cap3 A gene coding for the UDP-glucose (UDPGlc) dehydrogenase which is directly responsible for the transformation of some unencapsulated serotype-3 Sp mutants to the encapsulated phenotype [Arrecubieta et al., J. Bacteriol. 176 (1994) 6375-6383]. The two ORFs downstream from this gene (cap3B and cap3C) encode proteins with molecular masses of 49 and 34 kDa. Analysis of the deduced amino acid (aa) sequences of Cap3B and Cap3C shows homology to polysaccharide synthases and UDPG1c pyrophosphorylases, respectively. Furthermore, genetic complementation analysis showed that cap3C restored the galU defect of an Escherichia coli mutant. Northern blots have shown that cap3A, cap3B and cap3C constitute a single transcriptional unit, and primer extension analysis has revealed that the transcription start point is preceded by a nt sequence identical to the sigma 70 consensus promoter sequence of E. coli. The sequence upstream from this cluster also has a high degree of similarity with genes postulated to be essential for capsular production in several Gram+ bacteria. However, Northern blot analysis and insertion-duplication mutagenesis indicated that genes located in this region are not necessary for type-3 capsule production in the Sp strain 406.