A 6.3 kb fragment of E.coli RFL57 DNA coding for the type IV restriction-modification system Eco57I was cloned and expressed in E.coli RR1. A 5775 bp region of the cloned fragment was sequenced which contains three open reading frames (ORF). The methylase gene is 1623 bp long, corresponding to a protein of 543 amino acids (62 kDa); the endonuclease gene is 2991 bp in length (997 amino acids, 117 kDa). The two genes are transcribed convergently from different strands with their 3'-ends separated by 69 bp. The third short open reading frame (186 bp, 62 amino acids) has been identified, that precedes and overlaps by 7 nucleotides the ORF encoding the methylase. Comparison of the deduced Eco57I endonuclease and methylase amino acid sequences revealed three regions of significant similarity. Two of them resemble the conserved sequence motifs characteristic of the DNA[adenine-N6] methylases. The third one shares similarity with corresponding regions of the PaeR7I, TaqI, CviBIII, PstI, BamHI and HincII methylases. Homologs of this sequence are also found within the sequences of the PaeR7I, PstI and BamHI restriction endonucleases. This is the first example of a family of cognate restriction endonucleases and methylases sharing homologous regions. Analysis of the structural relationship suggests that the type IV enzymes represent an intermediate in the evolutionary pathway between the type III and type II enzymes.