Linear DNA with covalently closed ends is the predominant form of DNA in the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi. All bacteria examined to date have small DNA-binding proteins related to the Escherichia coli IHF and HU proteins that appear to play roles in DNA compaction and replication, but such proteins had not been isolated from bacteria with linear genomes. We found a single gene in B. burgdorferi (named hbb) whose product (named Hbb) complements the defects for gamma DNA packaging found in E. coli strains mutant in the genes for IHF and HU. The sequence of the predicted B. burgdorferi protein is similar to those of HU and IHF-like proteins in other bacteria. The gene appears to be in an operon with the order rpsT-hbb-orfH, where the rpsT gene is a homologue of the E. coli gene encoding ribosomal protein S20 and the orfH gene encodes a protein of unknown function. This operon is located upstream of the previously identified B. burgdorferi rho homologue.