A genetic approach was used for the cloning of the Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942 (Synechococcus strain R2) gnd gene which encodes 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD). A restriction map of the gnd locus was prepared by Southern analysis using the Escherichia coli gene as a heterologous probe. The Synechococcus strain R2 gene was genetically tagged by restriction site-specific insertion of the nptII gene of Tn903 into a pUC19 plasmid library of Synechococcus strain R2 chromosomal DNA. Synechococcus strain R2 was transformed with this insertion mutation library, and isolates carrying the gnd::nptII gene were identified as mutants hypersensitive to incubation in the dark. The interrupted gene was cloned from one of the mutants. A plasmid carrying the gnd::nptII gene was reintroduced into Synechococcus strain R2, and kanamycin-resistant transformants were selected. Transformants arising by gene replacement were dark sensitive and missing 6PGD activity. Transformants arising by plasmid insertion were dark resistant and had 6PGD activity. The wild-type gene was then cloned from a transformant containing a plasmid insertion, making use of the restriction map derived from the interrupted gene. Synechococcus strain R2 6PGD was expressed in E. coli when the cloned gnd gene was transcribed from the lacZ promoter resident on the vector. The boundaries of the gene and the direction of transcription were determined from the phenotypes conferred by plasmids carrying deletions entering gnd from either end. The nucleotide sequence was determined. The deduced amino acid sequence of Synechococcus strain R2 6PGD has 56% homology to that of the E. coli K-12 enzyme.