Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria is the causal agent of bacterial spot disease on pepper and tomato plants. We reported previously that the main hrp (hypersensitive reaction and pathogenicity) gene cluster in X. c. pv. vesicatoria contains six transcription units, designated hrpA to hrpF. We present here the sequence of the hrpD operon and an analysis of non-polar mutants in each of the six genes. Three genes, hrcQ, hrcR and hrcS, are predicted to encode conserved components of type III protein secretion systems in plant and mammalian pathogenic bacteria. For hrpD5 and hrpD6, homologues have only been found in Ralstonia solanacearum. Interestingly, the hrpD operon contains one gene, hpaA (for hrp-associated), which is specifically required for disease development. hpaA mutants are affected in pathogenicity, but retain in part the ability to induce avirulence gene-mediated, host-specific hypersensitive reaction (HR). In addition, HpaA was found to contain two functional nuclear localization signals, which are important for the interaction with the plant. We propose that HpaA is an effector protein that may be translocated into the host cell via the Hrp secretion pathway.