Random and site-directed Tn5-induced mutagenesis of Bradyrhizobium japonicum yielded two mutations, one in strain 2960 and the other in strain 2606::Tn5-20, which mapped close to each other but in separate genes. The corresponding wild-type genes were cloned, and their approximate location on the cloned DNA was determined. Mutant 2960 was Fix- and formed green nodules on soybean, whereas strain 2606::Tn5-20 had ca. 4% of wild-type Fix activity and formed white nodules. Cytochrome oxidase assays (Nadi tests) showed a negative reaction with both mutants, indicating a functional deficiency of cytochrome c or its terminal oxidase or both. However, the mutants grew well under aerobic conditions on minimal media with different carbon sources. Furthermore, mutant 2960 had a reduced activity in hydrogen uptake, was unable to grow anaerobically with nitrate as the terminal electron acceptor and 2960-infected soybean nodules contained little, if any, functional leghemoglobin. Southern blot analysis showed that a B. japonicum heme biosynthesis mutant [strain LO505: O'Brian MR, Kirshbom PM, Maier RJ (1987) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 84: 8390–8393] had its mutation close to the Tn5 insertion site of our mutant 2606::Tn5-20. This finding, combined with the observed phenotypes, suggested that the genes affected in mutants 2960 and 2606::Tn5-20 were involved in some steps of heme biosynthesis thus explaining the pleiotropic respiratory deficiencies of the mutants. Similar to strain LO505, the mutant 2606::Tn5-20 (but not 2960) was defective in the activity of protoporphyrinogen IX oxidase which catalyzes the penultimate step in the heme biosynthesis pathway. This suggests that one of the two cloned genes may code for this enzyme.