Early in infection of Bacillus subtilis by bacteriophage SPO1, the synthesis of most host-specific macromolecules is replaced by the corresponding phage-specific biosyntheses. It is believed that this subversion of the host biosynthetic machinery is accomplished primarily by a cluster of early genes in the SPO1 terminal redundancy. Here we analyze the nucleotide sequence of this 11.5-kb "host-takeover module," which appears to be designed for particularly efficient expression. Promoters, ribosome-binding sites, and codon usage statistics all show characteristics known to be associated with efficient function in B. subtilis. The promoters and ribosome-binding sites have additional conserved features which are not characteristic of their host counterparts and which may be important for competition with host genes for the cellular biosynthetic machinery. The module includes 24 genes, tightly packed into 12 operons driven by the previously identified early promoters PE1 to PE12. The genes are smaller than average, with half of them having fewer than 100 codons. Most of their inferred products show little similarity to known proteins, although zinc finger, trans-membrane, and RNA polymerase-binding domains were identified. Transcription-termination and RNase III cleavage sites were found at appropriate locations.