Background: In Mycobacterium tuberculosis and in Mycobacterium smegmatis the furA-katG loci, encoding the FurA regulatory protein and the KatG catalase-peroxidase, are highly conserved. In M. tuberculosis furA-katG constitute a single operon, whereas in M. smegmatis a single mRNA covering both genes could not be found. In both species, specific 5' ends have been identified: the first one, located upstream of the furA gene, corresponds to transcription initiation from the furA promoter; the second one is the katG mRNA 5' end, located in the terminal part of furA.