The hrp cluster of Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola encodes functions that are essential for pathogenicity on bean plants and for the elicitation of the hypersensitive response on resistant plants. The cluster was saturated with insertions of transposon Tn3-spice that served both as a mutagen and as a sensitive reporter of the expression of the target regions. The mutations covered a 17.5-kb segment in strain NPS3121, in which seven hrp::Tn5 insertions had been previously mapped, and regions outside this segment. The cluster is organized into seven distinct complementation groups (hrpL, hrpAB, hrpC, hrpD, hrpE, hrpF, and hrpSR) on the basis of the analysis of over 100 Tn3-spice insertions in plasmids and 43 similar insertions in the chromosome; it spans nearly 22 kb and is chromosomally located. The transcriptional orientation of all genes in the cluster was established by measuring the level of ice nucleation activity of complemented merodiploids carrying chromosomal hrp::inaZ fusions after inoculation in Red Kidney bean leaves. Although all seven loci were actively expressed in Red Kidney bean leaves, none of them was substantially expressed when the bacteria were grown in King B broth medium. Mutations in all loci, except those in hrpC, greatly reduced the ability of the bacteria to multiply in bean leaves. Mutations in the hrpC locus, although preventing the bacteria from eliciting a hypersensitive reaction on tobacco, allowed the bacteria to produce delayed and attenuated symptoms in Red Kidney bean leaves and to multiply to a level 10(2)- to 10(3)-fold lower than that of the wild-type strain. This is the first comprehensive report of the genetic and transcriptional organization of the hrp gene cluster in a phytopathogenic bacterium.