Strains of Escherichia coli with mutations in the ubiE gene are not able to catalyze the carbon methylation reaction in the biosynthesis of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q) and menaquinone (vitamin K2), essential isoprenoid quinone components of the respiratory electron transport chain. This gene has been mapped to 86 min on the chromosome, a region where the nucleic acid sequence has recently been determined. To identify the ubiE gene, we evaluated the amino acid sequences encoded by open reading frames located in this region for the presence of sequence motifs common to a wide variety of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent methyltransferases. One open reading frame in this region (o251) was found to encode these motifs, and several lines of evidence that confirm the identity of the o251 product as UbiE are presented. The transformation of a strain harboring the ubiE401 mutation with o251 on an expression plasmid restored both the growth of this strain on succinate and its ability to synthesize both ubiquinone and menaquinone. Disruption of o251 in a wild-type parental strain produced a mutant with defects in growth on succinate and in both ubiquinone and menaquinone synthesis. DNA sequence analysis of the ubiE401 allele identified a missense mutation resulting in the amino acid substitution of Asp for Gly142. E. coli strains containing either the disruption or the point mutation in ubiE accumulated 2-octaprenyl-6-methoxy-1,4-benzoquinone and demethylmenaquinone as predominant intermediates. A search of the gene databases identified ubiE homologs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans, Leishmania donovani, Lactococcus lactis, and Bacillus subtilis. In B. subtilis the ubiE homolog is likely to be required for menaquinone biosynthesis and is located within the gerC gene cluster, known to be involved in spore germination and normal vegetative growth. The data presented identify the E. coli UbiE polypeptide and provide evidence that it is required for the C methylation reactions in both ubiquinone and menaquinone biosynthesis.