Bacillus subtilis contains multiple forms of RNA polymerase holoenzyme, distinguished by the presence of different specificity determinants known as sigma factors. The sigma 28 factor was initially purified as a unique transcriptional activity in vegetatively growing B. subtilis cells. Purification of the sigma 28 protein has allowed tryptic peptides to be prepared and sequenced. The sequence of one tryptic peptide fragment was used to prepare an oligonucleotide probe specific for the sigma 28 structural gene, and the gene was isolated from a B. subtilis subgenomic library. The complete nucleotide sequence of the sigma 28 gene was determined, and the cloned sigma 28 gene was used to construct a mutant strain which does not express the sigma 28 protein. This strain also failed to synthesize flagellin protein and grew as long filaments. The predicted sigma 28 gene product is a 254-amino-acid polypeptide with a calculated molecular weight of 29,500. The sigma 28 protein sequence was similar to that of other sequenced sigma factors and to the flbB gene product of Escherichia coli. Since the flbB gene product is a positive regulator of flagellar synthesis in E. coli, it is likely that sigma 28 functions to regulate flagellar synthesis in B. subtilis.