This study shows that the Bacillus anthracis pXO1 virulence plasmid carries a Rap-Phr system, BXA0205, which regulates sporulation initiation in this organism. The BXA0205Rap protein was shown to dephosphorylate the Spo0F response regulator intermediate of the phosphorelay signal transduction system that regulates the initiation of the developmental pathway in response to environmental, metabolic, and cell cycle signals. The activity of the Rap protein was shown to be inhibited by the carboxy-terminal pentapeptide generated through an export-import processing pathway from the associated BXA0205Phr protein. Deregulation of the Rap activity by either overexpression or lack of the Phr pentapeptide resulted in severe inhibition of sporulation. Five additional Rap-Phr encoding systems were identified on the chromosome of B. anthracis, one of which, BA3790-3791, also affected sporulation initiation. The results suggest that the plasmid-borne Rap-Phr system may provide a selective advantage to the virulence of B. anthracis.