Malonate decarboxylation in Malonomonas rubra involves the formation of malonyl-S-[acyl-carrier protein] from acetyl-S-[acyl-carrier protein] and malonate, carboxyltransfer to a biotin protein and its decarboxylation that is coupled to delta mu Na+ generation. The genes encoding components of the malonate decarboxylase enzyme system have been cloned and sequenced. These are located within a gene cluster of approximately 11 kb comprising 14 genes that have been termed madYZGBAECDHKFLMN in the given order. Upstream of madY an open reading frame pointing into the opposite direction of the mad genes was found with structural similarities to insertion-sequence elements. The upstream region also contains DNA regions which are typical for an Escherichia coli sigma 70 promoter. Within 950 bp downstream of madN no other open reading frame was found. This region contains a putative terminator sequence. The intergenic regions within the mad gene cluster are short (usually < 70 bp, maximum 302 bp) and ribosome binding sites were defined before all 14 genes. Thus, this DNA region could form a transcriptional unit and all 14 genes could be translated into proteins. The genes madABCDEF encode the structural proteins of the malonate decarboxylase as yet identified. By comparing protein and DNA sequences and by data bank searches for related proteins with known function the following assignments could be made: MadA represents the acyl-carrier-protein-transferase component. MadB is the integral membrane-bound carboxybiotin protein decarboxylase, MadC and MadD are the two subunits of the carboxyltransferase, MadE is the acyl carrier protein and MadF is the biotin protein. Sequence comparison further indicates that MadH could be involved in the acetylation of the phosphoribosyl-dephospho-CoA prosthetic group and MadG could be involved in its biosynthesis. MadL and MadM are membrane proteins that could function as malonate carrier. The function of the madY,Z,K and N gene products is as yet unknown.