The molecular structure of the luxF protein from the bioluminescent bacterium Photobacterium leiognathi has been determined by X-ray diffraction techniques and refined to a conventional R-factor of 17.8% at 2.3 A resolution. The 228 amino acid polypeptide exists as a symmetrical homodimer and 33% of the monomer's solvent-accessible surface area is buried upon dimerization. The monomer displays a novel fold that contains a central seven-stranded beta-barrel. The solvent-exposed surface of the monomer is covered by seven alpha-helices, whereas the dimer interface is primarily a flat surface composed of beta-strands. The protein monomer binds two molecules of flavin mononucleotide, each of which has C6 of the flavin isoalloxazine moiety covalently attached to the C3' carbon atom of myristic acid. Both myristyl groups of these adducts are buried within the hydrophobic core of the protein. One of the cofactors contributes to interactions at the dimer interface. The luxF protein displays considerable amino acid sequence homology with both alpha- and beta-subunits of bacterial luciferase, especially the beta-subunit. Conserved amino acid residues shared between luxF and the luciferase subunits cluster predominantly in two distinct regions of the luxF protein molecule. These homologous regions in the luciferase subunits probably share a three-dimensional fold similar to that of the luxF protein.