Transcriptional analysis by Northern blotting identified clusters of early, middle and late transcribed regions of the temperate lactococcal bacteriophage TP901-1 during one-step growth experiments. The latent period was found to be 65 min and the burst size 40 +/- 10. The eight early transcripts, all mapping in a 13 kb region adjacent to the attachment site of TP901-1, were present at maximal levels 10 min after infection. The four middle transcripts, observed at maximal levels 30 min after infection, are all located within a 2 kb region at the distal end of the early transcripts. The late class of transcripts were detected 40 min after infection and the amounts of these transcripts increased with time. The late transcripts were localized to the 13 kb region adjacent to the 2 kb middle transcribed region. The sequence of almost 4 kb of the early region was determined, allowing a detailed transcriptional map for the early region of which in total 6.4 kb was sequenced. Sequence analysis of the early region revealed two closely positioned but divergently orientated promoters, PL and PR, in accordance with the orientation of the ORFs and the transcriptional map. Nine ORFs were found, and similarities to a phage repressor, a single-stranded DNA-binding protein, a topoisomerase, a Cro-like protein and two other phage proteins of unknown function were detected. The gene arrangement in the early transcribed region of TP901-1 thus consists of two transcriptional units: one from PR containing four genes, of which at least two (the integrase gene and putative repressor) are needed for lysogeny, and the divergent and longer transcriptional unit from PL, presumably encoding functions required for the lytic life cycle. ORFs with homology to proteins involved in DNA replication were identified on the latter transcriptional unit.