Anthrax toxin and capsule, determinants for successful infection by Bacillus anthracis, are encoded on the virulence plasmids pXO1 and pXO2, respectively. Each of these plasmids also encodes proteins that are highly homologous to the signal sensor domain of a chromosomally encoded major sporulation sensor histidine kinase (BA2291) in this organism. B. anthracis Sterne overexpressing the plasmid pXO2-61-encoded signal sensor domain exhibited a significant decrease in sporulation that was suppressed by the deletion of the BA2291 gene. Expression of the sensor domains from the pXO1-118 and pXO2-61 genes in Bacillus subtilis strains carrying the B. anthracis sporulation sensor kinase BA2291 gene resulted in BA2291-dependent inhibition of sporulation. These results indicate that sporulation sensor kinase BA2291 is converted from an activator to an inhibitor of sporulation in its native host by the virulence plasmid-encoded signal sensor domains. We speculate that activation of these signal sensor domains contributes to the initiation of B. anthracis sporulation in the bloodstream of its infected host, a salient characteristic in the virulence of this organism, and provides an additional role for the virulence plasmids in anthrax pathogenesis.