Bordetella pertussis lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is biologically active, being both toxic and immunogenic. Using transposon mutagenesis we have identified a genetic locus required for the biosynthesis of LPS in B. pertussis, which has been cloned and sequenced. We have also identified equivalent loci in Bordetella bronchiseptica and Bordetella parapertussis and cloned part of it from B. parapertussis. The amino acid sequences derived from most of the genes present in the sequenced B. pertussis locus are similar to proteins required for the biosynthesis of LPS and other complex polysaccharides from a variety of bacteria. The genes are in a unique arrangement in the locus. Several of the genes identified are similar to genes previously shown to play specific roles in LPS O-antigen biosynthesis. In particular, the amino acid sequence derived from one of the genes is similar to the enzyme encoded by rfbP from Salmonella enterica, which catalyses the transfer of galactose to the undecaprenol phosphate antigen carrier lipid as the first step in building oligosaccharide O-antigen units, which are subsequently assembled to form polymerized O-antigen structures. Defined mutation of this gene in the B. pertussis chromosome results in the inability to express band A LPS, possibly suggesting that the trisaccharide comprising band A is a single O-antigen-like structure and that B. pertussis LPS is similar to semi-rough LPS seen in some mutants of enteric bacteria.