We describe a large bacterial locus that, unusually, encodes components typically required for both the non-ribosomal synthesis of peptides and also polyketide/fatty acid synthase function. Two tandem ABC transporter genes in this putative nrp (non-ribosomal peptide/polyketide) operon suggest that the principal product may be secreted. Immediately distal to the nrp operon is a gene, irpP, encoding a small peptide similar to the Bacillus ComX pheromone that in its mature, extracellular form increases expression of unlinked non-ribosomal peptide synthesis genes. Transcription of both the nrp operon and irpP was up-regulated in iron-limiting culture conditions, consistent with the presence of a putative Fur repressor-binding site 5' of irpP. The locus was isolated from Proteus mirabilis as the site of a TnphoA insertion causing impaired swarm cell differentiation and an aberrant swarming pattern. The mutation was in one of the transporter genes, but a comparable swarming defect resulted from interposon disruption of the putative nrp synthetase gene.