The major outer membrane protein (P2) of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) with an apparent molecular weight of 37,000 to 40,000 has been previously shown to function as a porin and also as a target for antibodies protective against experimental Hib disease. The gene encoding the Hib P2 protein was cloned by using a shuttle vector capable of replication in both Escherichia coli and H. influenzae. The amino acid sequence of the amino terminus of the Hib P2 protein was determined and used to design an oligonucleotide probe corresponding to the first 20 amino acids of this protein. This oligonucleotide probe was used to identify Hib chromosomal DNA fragments containing the Hib P2 gene. These DNA fragments were ligated into the plasmid vector pGJB103 and then used to transform a rec-1 mutant of H. influenzae Rd. Recombinant clones expressing the Hib P2 protein were identified in a colony blot-radioimmunoassay by using a monoclonal antibody specific for a surface epitope of the Hib P2 protein. The gene encoding this Hib protein was present on a 10-kilobase Hib DNA insert in the recombinant plasmid. Transformation experiments involving the recombinant plasmid suggested that unregulated synthesis of Hib P2 is a lethal event in E. coli. The recombinant Hib P2 protein was exposed on the surface of the recombinant H. influenzae strain. This recombinant strain was used to develop a system for detecting polyclonal serum antibodies directed against surface determinants of the Hib P2 protein. The availability of the gene encoding the Hib P2 protein should facilitate investigation of both the immunogenicity and the structure-function relationship(s) of this major outer membrane protein.