A mutant of Escherichia coli strain CanR 22 has been isolated which is resistant to growth inhibition by canavanine, an analogue of arginine. The properties of this strain and of another canavanine-resistant mutant, JC182-5 (isolated by Celis et al. ), were studied. The mutation is pleiotropic in that it results in a reduction in the activity of two distinct permeases, the arginine-specific and lysine-arginine-ornithine transport systems. The lesion maps at min 56 of the E. coli linkage map, at or near the argP locus. Although strain CanR 22 excretes arginine, this excretion appears to result from reduced ability to concentrate arginine, rather than the loss of transport ability being the result of excretion. This conclusion is based on findings with a canavanine-resistant strain auxotrophic for arginine, which exhibits transport properties similar to those of the prototrophic strains. Additionally, growth in the presence of arginine or ornithine results in a repression of the activity of the two basic amino acid transport systems. Neither the arginine-specific nor the lysine-arginine-ornithine binding proteins of the mutant cells show significant alterations in terms of amount, physical properties, or kinetic parameters. These observations lead to the proposal of a model for the two basic amino acid transport systems in which two carrier proteins with different specificities interact with a common energy coupling mechanism. A lesion in the gene (or one of the genes) for this coupling mechanism can confer canavanine resistance.