The Escherichia coli outer membrane protease OmpT (protease VII) has been shown to degrade several proteins in vitro, but its function in vivo is uncertain. We demonstrate that OmpT participates in the degradation of a fusion protein secreted into the periplasmic space. A strain with mutations in degP (K.L. Strauch and J. Beckwith, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:1576-1580, 1988) and ompT exhibits a cumulative decrease in protein degradation and should be useful for the expression of proteolytically sensitive secreted proteins.