The O6 serogroup Escherichia coli strain 536 carries two hemolysin (hly) determinants integrated into the chromosome. The two hly determinants are not completely identical, either functionally or structurally, as demonstrated by spontaneous deletion mutants carrying only one of them and by cloning each of the two determinants separately into cosmid vectors. Each hly determinant is independently deleted at a frequency of 10(-4), leading to variants which exhibit similar levels of internal hemolysin but different amounts of secreted hemolysin. The two hly determinants were also identified in the O4 E. coli strain 519. The three E. coli strains 251, 764, and 768, which belong to the serogroup O18, and the O4 strain 367 harbor a single chromosomal hly determinant, as demonstrated by hybridization with hly-gene-specific probes. However, a hybridization probe derived from a sequence adjacent to the hlyC-proximal end of the plasmid pHly 152-encoded hly determinant hybridizes with several additional chromosomal bands in hemolytic O18 and O6 E. coli strains and even in E. coli K-12. The size of the probe causing the multiple hybridization suggests a 1,500- to 1,800-base pair sequence directly flanking hlyC. Spontaneous hemolysin-negative mutants were isolated from strains 764 and 768, which had lost the entire hly determinant but retained all copies of the hlyC-associated sequence.2+.