Leader peptidase, an integral membrane protein of Escherichia coli, is made without a cleavable leader sequence. It has 323 amino acid residues and spans the plasma membrane with a small amino-terminal domain exposed to the cytoplasm and a large, carboxyl-terminal domain exposed to the periplasm. We have investigated which regions of leader peptidase are necessary for its assembly across the membrane. Deletions were made in the carboxyl-terminal domain of leader peptidase, removing residues 141-222, 142-323, or 222-323. Protease accessibility was used to determine whether the polar, carboxyl-terminal domains of these truncated leader peptidases were translocated across the membrane. The removal of either residues 222-323 (the extreme carboxyl terminus) or residues 141-222 does not prevent leader peptidase membrane assembly. However, leader peptidase lacking both regions, i.e. amino acid residues 142-323, cannot translocate the remaining portion of its carboxyl terminus across the membrane. Our data suggest that the polar, periplasmic domain of leader peptidase contains information which is needed for membrane assembly.