The nucleotide sequence of the portion of a Bacillus subtilis (strain PAP115) 3 kb Pst I fragment which contains an endo-beta-1, 4-glucanase gene has been determined. This gene encodes a protein of 499 amino acid residues (Mr = 55,234) with a typical B. subtilis signal peptide. Escherichia coli which has been transformed with this gene produces an extracellular endoglucanase with an amino-terminus corresponding to the thirtieth encoded amino acid residue. The gene is preceded by a cryptic reading frame with a rho-independent terminator structure, and itself has such a structure in the immediate 3'-flanking region. We have also identified, in the 5'-flanking region, nucleotide sequences which resemble promoter elements recognized by Bacillus RNA polymerase E sigma 43. Comparison of the encoded amino acid sequence to other known beta-glucanases reveals a small region of similarity to the encoded protein of the Clostridium thermocellum celB gene. These similar regions may contain substrate-binding and/or catalytic sites.