Abstract An ‘actomyosin’ complex was purified from Escherichia coli W3110 using selective precipitation. The complex contains three major components of 19.5, 18.5 and 17 kDa. The 19.5- and 17-kDa proteins were purified by electroelution, peptide mapped and N-terminally sequenced. The structural gene for the 17-kDa protein was found to have been previously identified in an operon containing several other genes including the essential lpxA, lpxB and dnaE. The possible function of the 17-kDa protein and the other ‘actomyosin’ components is discussed.