Escherichia coli K-12 can utilize D-allose, an all-cis hexose, as a sole carbon source. The operon responsible for D-allose metabolism was localized at 92.8 min of the E. coli linkage map. It consists of six genes, alsRBACEK, which are inducible by D-allose and are under the control of the repressor gene alsR. This operon is also subject to catabolite repression. Three genes, alsB, alsA, and alsC, appear to be necessary for transport of D-allose. D-Allose-binding protein, encoded by alsB, is a periplasmic protein that has an affinity for D-allose, with a Kd of 0.33 microM. As was found for other binding-protein-mediated ABC transporters, the allose transport system includes an ATP-binding component (AlsA) and a transmembrane protein (AlsC). It was found that AlsE (a putative D-allulose-6-phosphate 3-epimerase), but not AlsK (a putative D-allose kinase), is necessary for allose metabolism. During this study, we observed that the D-allose transporter is partially responsible for the low-affinity transport of D-ribose and that strain W3110, an E. coli prototroph, has a defect in the transport of D-allose mediated by the allose permease.