The chaperone-like protein of the main terminal branch of the general secretory pathway from Klebsiella oxytoca, the outer membrane lipoprotein PulS, protects the multimeric secretin PulD from degradation and promotes its correct localization to the outer membrane. To determine whether these are separable functions, or whether resistance to proteolysis results simply from correct localization of PulD, we replaced the lipoprotein-type signal peptide of PulS by the signal peptide of periplasmic maltose-binding protein. The resulting periplasmic PulS retained its ability to protect PulD, but not its ability to localize PulD to the outer membrane and to function in pullulanase secretion. Periplasmic PulS competed with wild-type PulS to prevent pullulanase secretion, presumably again by causing mislocalization of PulD. A hybrid protein comprising the mature part of PulS fused to the C-terminus of full-length maltose-binding protein (MalE-PulS) had similar properties to the periplasmic PulS protein. Moreover, MalE-PulS was shown to associate with PulD by amylose-affinity chromatography. The MalE-PulS hybrid was rendered completely functional (i.e. it restored pullulanase secretion in a pulS mutant) by replacing its signal peptide with a lipoprotein-type signal peptide. However, this fattyacylated hybrid protein was only functional if it also carried a lipoprotein sorting signal that targeted it to the outer membrane. Thus, the two functions of PulS are separate and fully dissociable. Incorrect localization, rather than proteolysis, of PulD in the absence of PulS was shown to be the factor that causes high-level induction of the phage shock response. The Erwinia chrysanthemi PulS homologue, OutS, can substitute for PulS, and PulS can protect the secretin OutD from proteolysis in Escherichia coli, indicating the possible existence of a family of PulS-like chaperone proteins.