Pentitol metabolism in Klebsiella aerogenes is encoded by continuous ribitol (rbt) and D-arabitol (dal) operons transcribed in bipolar fashion and sandwiched between long stretches of homologous DNA. The operons are separated by a central control region (2.2 kb) which encodes both the repressors and all the control sequences. The rbt repressor (270 amino acids) shows homology to the Escherichia coli lac repressor and other DNA-binding proteins. It is transcribed from the strand opposite the rbt operon and the intervening control region (254-bp) contains features which reflect the complex regulation. A rbt-constitutive mutant strain used in previous studies of experimental enzyme evolution encodes a truncated rbt-peptide of 133 residues due to a frameshift mutation.