The beta-ketoacyl-(acyl carrier protein) synthases (beta-keto-ACP synthases; KAS) catalyse the addition of two-carbon units to the growing acyl chain during the elongation phase of fatty-acid synthesis. As key regulators of bacterial fatty-acid synthesis, they are promising targets for the development of new antibacterial agents. The crystal structure of 3-oxoacyl-ACP synthase II from Thermus thermophilus HB8 (TtKAS II) has been solved by molecular replacement and refined at 2.0 A resolution. The crystal is orthorhombic, space group P2(1)2(1)2, with unit-cell parameters a = 72.07, b = 185.57, c = 62.52 A, and contains one homodimer in the asymmetric unit. The subunits adopt the well known alpha-beta-alpha-beta-alpha thiolase fold that is common to ACP synthases. The structural and sequence similarities of TtKAS II to KAS I and KAS II enzymes of known structure from other sources support the hypothesis of comparable enzymatic activity. The dimeric state of TtKAS II is important to create each fatty-acid-binding pocket. Closer examination of KAS structures reveals that compared with other KAS structures in the apo form, the active site of TtKAS II is more accessible because of the ;open' conformation of the Phe396 side chain.