Cells of Escherichia coli K12 were sensitive to 100 mM-methylammonium when cultured under nitrogen limitation, and resistant when grown with an excess of either NH4Cl or glutamine. Glutamine synthetase activity was required for expression of the methylammonium-sensitive phenotype. Mutants were isolated which were resistant to 100 mM-methylammonium, even when grown under nitrogen limitation. P1 bacteriophage transduction and F' complementation analysis revealed that the resistance-conferring mutations mapped either inside the glnA structural gene and/or elsewhere in the E. coli chromosome. Glutamine synthetase was purified from the wild-type and from some of the mutant strains. Strains carrying glnA-linked mutations that were solely responsible for the methylammonium-resistant phenotype yielded an altered enzyme, which was less active biosynthetically with either ammonium or methylammonium as substrate. Sensitivity to methylammonium appeared to be due to synthesis of gamma-glutamylmethylamide by glutamine synthetase, which was synthesized poorly, if at all, by mutants carrying an altered glutamine synthetase enzyme.