A 3.2-kbp PstI fragment of DNA encoding formamidase from the methylotrophic bacterium Methylophilus methylotrophus which had previously been cloned (pNW3) [Wyborn, N.R., Scherr, D.J. & Jones, C.W. (1994) Microbiology 140, 191-195], was subcloned as a 2.3 kbp HindIII fragment (pNW323). Nucleotide sequencing showed that the subclone contained two genes which encoded formamidase (fmdA) and a possible regulatory protein (fmdB). Predicted molecular masses for FmdA and FmdB were 44438 Da (compared with approximately 44500 Da by electrospray mass spectrometry and 51000 Da by SDS/PAGE of the purified enzyme) and 12306 Da, respectively. The derived amino acid sequence of formamidase was supported by N-terminal amino acid sequencing of the enzyme and of proteolytic fragments prepared from it using V8 endoproteinase and was 57% similar to that of the acetamidase from Mycobacterium smegmatis. The structural similarities between these two enzymes, and their existence as a separate class of bacterial amidase, were confirmed by immunological investigations.