The function of the stable 6S RNA of Escherichia coli is not known. Recently, it was proposed that the 6S RNA is a component of a bacterial signal recognition particle required for protein secretion. To test this proposal, we isolated a mutant that lacks the 6S RNA. Studies of the mutant show that the 6S RNA is not essential for growth or for protein secretion. The gene for the 6S RNA (ssr) maps near serA at 63 min on the E. coli genetic map.