The phs mutation of Escherichia coli has been suggested to affect the Na+/H+ antiport (D. Zilberstein, E. Padan, and S. Schuldiner, FEBS Lett. 168:327-330, 1980). We have recently shown that the mutation affects the rpoA gene and thus affects transcription. The extent of the pleiotropy of the phs mutation was investigated. In addition to the previously reported growth defect on L-glutamate and melibiose, the mutation also affects at least two other metabolic systems. The transport and metabolism of arabinose is impaired and the transport of sulfate is reduced. The extent to which the effects of the phs mutation on metabolism are due to a defect in the Na+/H+ antiport was investigated, and no causal role for this transport system in the metabolic defects was found.