Abstract Streptomyces albus G contains two groEL-like genes encoding three related proteins [Guglielmi et al. J. Bacteriol. 173 (1991) 7374-7381; Mazodier et al. J. Bacteriol. 173 (1991) 7382–7386]. Two proteins, HSP58 and HSP18, are synthesized from a single start codon site in groEL1. HSP18 may be a processed form of HSP58 or the result of early termination after frameshifting. The third protein, HSP56 is encoded by groEL2. In order to determine the physiological roles of these different proteins, both groEL genes were mutagenized by using a new approach for obtaining insertions in the streptomycete chromosome. Escherichia coli plasmids containing fragments homologous to groEL1 or groEL2 are unable to replicate in Streptomyces. They were introduced into S. albus by conjugation with E. coli. We then screened for mutants in which groEL1 or groEL2 had been disrupted due to recombination events (single or double crossover) at specifie sites. Using this approach, the functionally indispensable domain of HSP58 was localized to within 249 amino acids of the N-terminus. HSP58 was not detected in the mutant generated by the most upstream insertion into the groEL1 coding sequence. However, HSP18 was synthesized in this mutant after heat shock. This groEL1 mutant was not impaired in growth in the 30–41°C temperature range and SDS-PAGE analysis showed its overall pattern of gene expression to be indistinguishable from the parental strain. The inability to generate strains containing groEL2 disruptions strongly suggests that HSP56 is indispensable for growth. Thus, in S. albus, the N-terminal part of groEL1 encoding HSP18, and the whole of groEL2, encoding HSP56, seem to be essential for growth.