Bacillus thuringiensis EG2838 and EG4961 are highly toxic to Colorado potato beetle larvae, and only strain EG4961 is toxic to southern corn rootworm larvae. To investigate the cause of the different insecticidal activities of EG2838 and EG4961, cryIII-type genes toxic to coleopterans were cloned from each strain. The cryIIIB gene, cloned as part of an 8.0-kb EcoRI fragment of EG2838 DNA, encoded a crystal protein (CryIIIB) of 74,237 Da. The cryIIIB2 gene, cloned as part of an 8.3-kb PstI-Asp718 fragment of EG4961 DNA, encoded a crystal protein (CryIIIB2) of 74,393 Da that was 94% identical to CryIIIB. Analysis of the transcriptional start sites showed that cryIIIB and cryIIIB2 were initiated from a conserved region located within 130 nucleotides upstream from the translation start sites of both genes. Although the CryIIIB and CryIIIB2 proteins were similar in sequence, they displayed distinct insecticidal activities: CryIIIB was one-third as toxic as CryIIIB2 to Colorado potato beetle larvae, and CryIIIB2, but not CryIIIB, was toxic to southern corn rootworm larvae. Genes encoding crystal proteins of approximately 32 and 31 kDa were located adjacent to the cryIIIB and cryIIIB2 genes, respectively. The 32- and 31-kDa crystal proteins failed to enhance the insecticidal activities of CryIIIB and CryIIIB2.