The enteric bacterium Serratia marcescens is an opportunistic human pathogen. The strain ATCC39006 makes the red pigment, prodigiosin (Pig), and the beta-lactam antibiotic carbapenem (Car). Mutants were isolated that were concomitantly defective for Pig and Car production. These mutants were found to have a mutation in the rap gene (Regulation of Antibiotic and Pigment). Sequence analysis of the rap gene revealed a predicted protein product showing strong homology to SlyA, originally thought to be a haemolytic virulence determinant in Salmonella typhimurium. Homologues of rap were detected in several bacterial genera, including Salmonella, Yersinia, Enterobacter, and species of the plant pathogen, Erwinia. The Erwinia hoeEr (homologue of rap) and the Yersinia horYe genes were also found to be very similar to rap and slyA. Marker exchange mutagenesis of horEr revealed that it encoded a regulatory protein controlling the production of antibiotic and exoenzyme virulence determinants in the phytopathogen, Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovora. We have shown that these new homologues of SlyA form a highly conserved subgroup of a growing superfamily of bacterial regulatory proteins controlling diverse physiological processes in human, animal and plant pathogens.