Benzyl alcohol, benzaldehyde, benzoate, and anthranilate are metabolized via catechol, cis,cis-muconate, and the beta-ketoadipate pathway in Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ADP1 (BD413). Mutant strain ISA25 with a deletion spanning catBCIJF and unable to metabolize muconate further will not grow in the presence of an aromatic precursor of muconate. Growth on fumarate as the sole carbon source with added benzyl alcohol or benzaldehyde selected spontaneous mutants of ISA25. After repair of the cat deletion by natural transformation with linearized plasmid pPAN4 (catBCIJF) 10 mutants were unable to grow on benzoate of cis,cis-muconate but could still grow on anthranilate. Transformation with wild-type chromosomal DNA demonstrated the presence of two unlinked mutations in each strain, one in the benABCD region, encoding the conversion of benzoate to catechol, and the other in a gene determining the ability to grow on exogenous cis,cis-muconate. The wild-type gene, named mucK, was cloned into pUC18, and its nucleotide sequence was determined. It encodes a 413-residue protein of M(r) = 45,252 which is a member of a superfamily of membrane transport proteins and which is within a subgroup involved in the uptake of organic acids. Five of the mutant alleles were cloned, and the mutations were determined by nucleotide sequencing. All the mutations were in the mucK coding region and consisted of three deletions, one duplication, and a substitution. Insertional inactivation of mucK resulted in the loss of the ability to utilize exogenous muconate. The location of mucK on the chromosome appeared to be unique for genes associated with the benzoate branch of the beta-ketoadipate pathway in being close to the pca-qui-pob gene cluster (for p-hydroxybenzoate utilization) and distant from the functionally related ben-cat cluster. Downstream of mucK and transcribed in the same direction is an open reading frame encoding a protein of 570 residues (M(r) = 63,002) which shows considerable homology with a mammalian electron transport protein; its insertional inactivation had no detectable phenotypic effect.