Many antibiotic-producing actinomycetes possess at least one ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporter which forms part of the antibiotic biosynthetic pathway and in most cases confers resistance to the drug in an heterologous host. Three types of antibiotic ABC transporters have been so far described in producer organisms. In Type I two genes are involved, one encoding a hydrophilic ATP-binding protein with one nucleotide-binding domain and the other encoding a hydrophobic membrane protein. In Type II transporters only a gene encoding the hydrophilic ATP-binding protein with two nucleotide-binding domains is present and no gene encoding a hydrophobic membrane protein has been found. In Type III only one gene is involved which encodes both the hydrophilic and hydrophobic components. Possibly these ABC transporters are responsible for secretion of the antibiotics outside the cells. A comparative analysis of the ATP-binding components of the different antibiotic ABC transporters and analysis of the amino acid distances between the so-called Walker motifs suggests that the three types of transporters have probably evolved from a common ancestor containing a single nucleotide-binding domain.