pdrK encodes a pyridoxine (PN)/pyridoxal (PL)/pyridoxamine (PM) kinase thought to function in the salvage pathway of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) coenzyme biosynthesis. The observation that pdxK null mutants still contain PL kinase activity led to the hypothesis that Escherichia coli K-12 contains at least one other B6-vitamer kinase. Here we support this hypothesis by identifying the pdxY gene (formally, open reading frame f287b) at 36.92 min, which encodes a novel PL kinase. PdxY was first identified by its homology to PdxK in searches of the complete E. coli genome. Minimal clones of pdxY+ overexpressed PL kinase specific activity about 10-fold. We inserted an omega cassette into pdxY and crossed the resulting pdxY::omegaKan(r) mutation into the bacterial chromosome of a pdrB mutant, in which de novo PLP biosynthesis is blocked. We then determined the growth characteristics and PL and PN kinase specific activities in extracts of pdxK and pdxY single and double mutants. Significantly, the requirement of the pdxB pdxK pdxY triple mutant for PLP was not satisfied by PL and PN, and the triple mutant had negligible PL and PN kinase specific activities. Our combined results suggest that the PL kinase PdxY and the PN/PL/PM kinase PdxK are the only physiologically important B6 vitamer kinases in E. coli and that their function is confined to the PLP salvage pathway. Last, we show that pdxY is located downstream from pdxH (encoding PNP/PMP oxidase) and essential tyrS (encoding aminoacyl-tRNA(Tyr) synthetase) in a multifunctional operon. pdxY is completely cotranscribed with tyrS, but about 92% of tyrS transcripts terminate at a putative Rho-factor-dependent attenuator located in the tyrS-pdxY intercistronic region.