A synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide probe was used to clone the gene encoding the phosphatidylcholine-preferring phospholipase C of Bacillus cereus. The sequence of a 2050-bp restriction fragment containing the gene was determined. Analysis of the gene-derived amino acid (aa) sequence showed that this exoenzyme is probably synthesized as a 283-aa precursor with a 24-aa signal peptide and a 14-aa propeptide. The mature, secreted enzyme comprises 245 aa residues. Sonicates of Escherichia coli HB101 carrying the gene on a multicopy plasmid showed phospholipase C activity. This activity was inhibited by Tris, a known inhibitor of the B. cereus enzyme and also by antiserum raised against pure B. cereus phospholipase C. We conclude therefore that the gene is expressed in E. coli. The cloning and sequencing described here complete the first step toward using in vitro mutagenesis for investigations of the structure-function relationships of B. cereus phospholipase C.