A 32P-labeled fragment of DNA, encoding the major part of the chromosomal ampC beta-lactamase gene of Escherichia coli K-12, was used as a hybridization probe for homologous DNA sequences in colonies of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and different enterobacterial species. The ampC probe detected the presence of homologous DNA sequences in clinical isolates of E. coli, Shigella flexneri, Shigella sonnei, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella typhimurium, Serratia marcescens, and P. aeruginosa. No hybridization was found with N. gonorrhoeae colonies. In Southern blotting experiments the ampC probe hybridized to chromosomal DNA fragments of the same size in all enterobacterial species tested. However, the degree of hybridization differed with DNA from different species. DNA from the Shigella species strongly hybridized to the ampC probe. Furthermore, antibodies raised against purified E. coli K-12 ampC beta-lactamase precipitated beta-lactamases from the Shigella species, suggesting extensive sequence similarities between the ampC genes of these genera. The production of chromosomal beta-lactamase in S. sonnei increased with increasing growth rate similar to E. coli K-12. This growth rate response was abolished in two beta-lactamase-hyperproducing S. sonnei mutants, which thus seem similar to E. coli K-12 attenuator mutants. We propose that both the structure and regulation of the chromosomal beta-lactamase genes are very similar in E. coli and in S. sonnei.