A cloned DNA segment from Bacillus subtilis containing 21 tRNA genes was introduced into Escherichia coli. In the B. subtilis genome, these tRNA genes are located after an rRNA gene set and before tandem terminators. The rRNA and tRNA genes are thought to represent a single transcriptional unit. However, another putative promoter occurs after the second tRNA gene within the tRNA gene cluster and has a sequence compatible with both the major B. subtilis (sigma 43 type) promoter and the major E. coli promoter. The B. subtilis 21-tRNA-gene cluster was introduced into E. coli to see whether this promoter would be recognized in E. coli, to determine the start point of transcription in the E. coli system, and to see whether mature B. subtilis tRNAs would be transcribed and processed in E. coli. Expression was evaluated by monitoring levels of aminoacylation of mature tRNAs extracted from E. coli containing plasmids with or without the B. subtilis tRNA genes and by examining profiles of isoaccepting species on columns of RPC-5. S1 nuclease mapping was performed to define the starting point for transcription. The results indicated that a putative promoter located within the B. subtilis tRNA gene region was functional when cloned into E. coli and that it initiated at the same nucleotide as it does in B. subtilis. In addition, at least some B. subtilis tRNA genes could be transcribed and processed in E. coli to mature tRNAs capable of accepting an amino acid.