The soil-dwelling microbe, Pseudomonas sp. strain CBS-3, has attracted recent attention due to its ability to survive on 4-chlorobenzoate as its sole carbon source. The biochemical pathway by which this organism converts 4-chlorobenzoate to 4-hydroxybenzoate consists of three enzymes: 4-chlorobenzoyl-CoA ligase, 4-chlorobenzoyl-CoA dehalogenase, and 4-hydroxybenzoyl-CoA thioesterase. Here we describe the three-dimensional structure of the thioesterase determined to 2.0-A resolution. Each subunit of the homotetramer is characterized by a five-stranded anti-parallel beta-sheet and three major alpha-helices. While previous amino acid sequence analyses failed to reveal any similarity between this thioesterase and other known proteins, the results from this study clearly demonstrate that the molecular architecture of 4-hydroxybenzoyl-CoA thioesterase is topologically equivalent to that observed for beta-hydroxydecanoyl thiol ester dehydrase from Escherichia coli. On the basis of the structural similarity between these two enzymes, the active site of the thioesterase has been identified and a catalytic mechanism proposed.