The three genes of the pet operon, coding, respectively, for the Rieske iron-sulfur protein, cytochrome b and cytochrome c1 components of the cytochrome bc1 complex in the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum have been sequenced. The amino acid sequences deduced for these three peptides from the nucleotide sequences of the genes have been confirmed, in part, by direct sequencing of portions of the three peptides separated from a sample of the purified, detergent-solubilized complex. These sequences show considerable homology with those previously obtained for the pet operons of other photosynthetic bacteria. Northern blots of R. rubrum mRNA have established that the operon is transcribed as a single polycistronic message, the start site of which has been determined by both primer extension and nuclease protection. Photosynthetic growth of R. rubrum was shown to be inhibited by antimycin A, a specific inhibitor of cytochrome bc1 complexes, and antimycin A-resistant mutants of R. rubrum have been isolated. Preliminary results suggest that it may be possible to express the R. rubrum pet operon in a strain of the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus from which the native pet operon has been deleted.