We have cloned and sequenced the nrd (nucleotide reductase) locus of Bacillus subtilis. The locus seems to be organized in an operon comprising four ORFs. The first three encode polypeptides highly similar to the product of the coding sequences characterizing the nrdEF operons of Enterobacteriaceae. The sequencing of the conditional lethal mutation ts-A13, localized in the nrdE cistron, and the lethality of insertional mutations targeted in the internal region of nrdE and nrdF, demonstrated the essential role of this locus. The fourth ORF, ymaB, part of the putative operon, which is not similar to any known protein, is also essential. The regulation of expression of the operon, monitored by lacZ transcriptional fusions, is similar to the regulation of the functionally relevant nrdAB operon of Escherichia coli. The operon was induced by thymidine starvation and its expression was directly or indirectly affected by RecA function. Genetic and functional analysis strongly indicates that in B. subtilis the class I ribonucleotide reductase encoded by this nrd operon is evolutionarily distant from the homologous class I enzyme of Enterobacteria.