Abstract Expression of the glucitol ( gut) operon in Escherichia coli is regulated by an unusual, complex system which consists of an activator (encoded by the gutM gene) and a repressor (encoded by the gutR gene) in addition to the cAMP-CRP complex (CRP, cAMP receptor protein). The activator and repressor are predicted to possess 119 ( M r = 12,955) and 257 ( M r = 28,240) aminoacyl residues, respectively, as deduced from the nucleotide sequences of their structural genes. Both of the genes encoding the two regulators are located downstream from the other known gut structural genes. Reverse transcriptase mapping revealed that the gutM gene is a promoter-distal constituent of the gut operon. The gutR gene has its own promoter, but expression of this gene is primarily due to readthrough from the gut operon operator-promoter. Thus, the gut operon consists of at least five structural genes and has the following gene order: gutOPABDMR. Interestingly, synthesis of the mRNA, which initiates at the promoter specific to the gutR gene, occurs within the gutM gene. Expressional control of the gut operon appears to occur as a consequence of the antagonistic action of the products of the autogenously regulated gutM and gutR genes. An additional cistron of the gut operon, of unknown function, may follow the gutR gene.