Changes in intracellular cAMP concentration play important roles in Haemophilus influenzae, regulating both sugar utilization and competence for natural transformation. In enteric bacteria, cAMP levels are controlled by the phosphoenolpyruvate:glycose phosphotransferase system (PTS) in response to changes in availability of the preferred sugars it transports. We have demonstrated the existence of a simple PTS in H. influenzae by several methods. We have cloned the H. influenzae ptsI gene, encoding PTS Enzyme I; genome analysis locates it in a pts operon structurally homologous to those of enteric bacteria. In vitro phosphorylation assays confirmed the presence of functional PTS components. A ptsI null mutation reduced fructose uptake to 1% of the wild-type rate, and abolished fructose fermentation even when exogenous cAMP was provided. The ptsI mutation also prevented fermentation of ribose and galactose, but utilization of these cAMP-dependent sugars was restored by addition of cAMP. In wild-type cells the non-metabolizable fructose analogue xylitol prevented fermentation of these sugars, confirming that the fructose PTS regulates cAMP levels. Development of competence under standard inducing conditions was reduced 250-fold by the ptsI mutation, unless cells were provided with exogenous cAMP. Competence is thus shown to be under direct nutritional control by a fructose-specific PTS.