Pseudomonads from environmental sources vary widely in their sensitivity to cadmium, but the basis for this resistance is largely uncharactarized. A chromosomal fragment encoding cadmium resistance was cloned from Pseudomonas putida 06909, a rhizosphere bacterium, and sequence analysis revealed two divergently transcribed genes, cadA and cadR. CadA was similar to cadmium-transporting ATPases known mostly from gram-positive bacteria, and to ZntA, a lead-, zinc-, and cadmium-transporting ATPase from Escherichia coli. CadR was related to the MerR family of response regulators that normally control mercury detoxification in other bacterial systems. A related gene, zntR, regulateszntA in E. coli, but it is not contiguous withzntA in the E. coli genome as cadAand cadR were in P. putida. In addition, unlike ZntA and other CadA homologs, but similar to the predicted product of gene PA3690 in the P. aeruginosa genome, the P. putida CadA sequence had a histidine-rich N-terminal extension. CadR and the product of PA3689 of P. aeruginosa also had histidine-rich C-terminal extensions not found in other MerR family response regulators. Mutational analysis indicated that cadA and cadR are fully responsible for cadmium resistance and partially for zinc resistance. However, unlike zntA, they did not confer significant levels of lead resistance. The cadA promoter was responsive to Cd(II), Pb(II), and Zn(II), while the cadR promoter was only induced by Cd(II). CadR apparently represses its own expression at the transcriptional level. However, CadR apparently does not represscadA. Homologs of the cadmium-transporting ATPase were detected in many other Pseudomonas species.