A continuous 75627 bp segment of the Mycobacterium leprae chromosome spanning the oriC region was sequenced. The gene order at this locus was similar to that found in the replication origin region of many other prokaryotes, particularly Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Streptomyces coelicolor. As in the case of several Gram-positive bacteria, essential genes involved in basic cellular functions, such as DNA or RNA metabolism (dnaA, dnaB, dnaN, gyrB, gyrA, pcnB, recF, rnpA, ssb), cell wall synthesis (ponA, pbpA) and probably cell division (gidB, rodA) were found. Strikingly, the gidA gene was absent from this part of the genome and there was no rRNA operon near oriC. The gyrA gene harbours an intein coding sequence indicating that protein splicing is required to produce the mature A subunit of DNA gyrase. Among the many other noteworthy features were ORFs encoding putative serine/threonine protein kinases and a protein phosphatase, three tRNA genes, one M. leprae-specific repetitive element and a glnQ pseudogene.