Transport of acidic amino acids in Bacillus subtilis is an electrogenic process in which L-glutamate or L-aspartate is symported with at least two protons. This is shown by studies of transport in membrane vesicles in which a proton motive force is generated by oxidation of ascorbate-phenazine methosulfate or by artificial ion gradients. An inwards-directed sodium gradient had no (stimulatory) effect on proton motive force-driven L-glutamate uptake. The transporter is specific for L-glutamate and L-aspartate. L-Glutamate transport is inhibited by beta-hydroxyaspartate and cysteic acid but not by alpha-methyl-glutamate. The gene encoding the L-glutamate transport protein of B. subtilis (gltPBsu) was cloned by complementation of Escherichia coli JC5412 for growth on glutamate as the sole source of carbon, energy, and nitrogen, and its nucleotide sequence was determined. Putative promoter, terminator, and ribosome binding site sequences were found in the flanking regions. UUG is most likely the start codon. gltPBsu encodes a polypeptide of 414 amino acid residues and is homologous to several proteins that transport glutamate and/or structurally related compounds such as aspartate, fumarate, malate, and succinate. Both sodium- and proton-coupled transporters belong to this family of dicarboxylate transporters. Hydropathy profiling and multiple alignment of the family of carboxylate transporters suggest that each of the proteins spans the cytoplasmic membrane 12 times with both the amino and carboxy termini on the inside.