The nucleotide sequence upstream of the groEL gene of Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been determined. Upstream of groEL is a homolog of groES and the divergently transcribed frpB gene. The promoter region of groES lacks the inverted repeat sequences (IR) that act as a regulatory element controlling the expression of similar operons in many other bacterial species. This region contains overlapping consensus sequences for sigma 32-dependent and sigma 70-dependent promoters, and an appropriately placed transcription start point was mapped downstream of these promoters. Northern hybridization demonstrated that synthesis of a full-length groES-groEL transcript was induced in heat-stressed cells. These experiments also revealed the presence of a shorter groES-specific transcript, apparently the result of the premature termination of transcription at an IR situated between the groES and groEL genes.