Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. One characteristic of P. aeruginosa CF isolates is the overproduction of the exopolysaccharide alginate, controlled by AlgR. Transcriptional profiling analyses comparing mucoid P. aeruginosa strains to their isogenic algR deletion strains showed that the transcription of cyanide-synthesizing genes (hcnAB) was approximately 3-fold lower in the algR mutants. S1 nuclease protection assays corroborated these findings, indicating that AlgR activates hcnA transcription in mucoid P. aeruginosa. Quantification of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) production from laboratory isolates revealed that mucoid laboratory strains made sevenfold more HCN than their nonmucoid parental strains. In addition, comparison of laboratory and clinically derived nonmucoid strains revealed that HCN was fivefold higher in the nonmucoid CF isolates. Moreover, the average amount of cyanide produced by mucoid clinical isolates was 4.7 +/- 0.85 micromol of HCN/mg of protein versus 2.4 +/- 0.40 micromol of HCN/mg of protein for nonmucoid strains from a survey conducted with 41 P. aeruginosa CF isolates from 24 patients. Our data indicate that (i) mucoid P. aeruginosa regardless of their origin (laboratory or clinically derived) produce more cyanide than their nonmucoid counterparts, (ii) AlgR regulates HCN production in P. aeruginosa, and (iii) P. aeruginosa CF isolates are more hypercyanogenic than nonmucoid laboratory strains. Taken together, cyanide production may be a relevant virulence factor in CF lung disease, the production of which is regulated, in part, by AlgR.