The fumarate reductase of Escherichia coli is a bioenergetically important membrane-bound flavoenzyme consisting of four subunits. A and B comprise a membrane-extrinsic catalytic domain whereas C and D are hydrophobic polypeptides which link the catalytic centres to the electron-transport chain. The nucleotide sequence of the frd operon encoding the fumarate reductase of the distantly related bacterium, Proteus vulgaris has been determined and used to predict the primary structures of the respective subunits. Extensive amino acid sequence identity (greater than 80%) was found between the fumarate reductase A and B subunits of P. vulgaris and E. coli. In contrast, the primary structures of the P. vulgaris and E. coli C and D proteins are much less closely related (about 60% homology) although the overall hydrophobicity of their three membrane-spanning segments has been conserved. In most enteric bacteria, the frd operon is followed by genes, ampR and/or ampC, required for the genetic regulation and biosynthesis of a cephalosporinase. The corresponding region of the P. vulgaris genome is occupied by an operon (orf A'BCD) containing at least four genes which are clearly unrelated to the ampC system. Intriguingly the primary structures of the OrfA and OrfD proteins suggest that, like fumarate reductase, they may be components of a membrane-bound enzyme complex involved in energy metabolism.