New shape-determining genes in the mre cluster at 71 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome map, named mreC and mreD, were identified by complementation experiments using delta mre-678 mutant cells, which have a 5-kilobase-pair deletion encompassing the mre region, and by DNA sequencing. The delta mre-678 mutant cells required three genes, the previously reported mreB gene and the two new genes, to restore the normal rod shape of the cells and normal sensitivity of growth to mecillinam. The mreC gene is preceded by the mreB gene and by a 65-base-pair spacing sequence containing a palindrome sequence and a possible Shine-Dalgarno sequence. The deduced amino acid sequence of the MreC protein consists of 367 amino acid residues with a molecular weight of 39,530. The initiation codon of the mreD gene overlaps the termination codon of the mreC gene by one nucleotide residue. The deduced amino acid sequence of the MreD protein consists of 162 amino acid residues with a molecular weight of 18,755. In vitro, the coding frames of mreC and mreD produced proteins with Mrs of 40,000 and 15,000, respectively, as judged by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.