A range of bacteria are able to use tetrathionate as a terminal respiratory electron acceptor. Here we report the identification and characterization of the ttrRSBCA locus required for tetrathionate respiration in Salmonella typhimurium LT2a. The ttr genes are located within Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 at centisome 30.5. ttrA, ttrB and ttrC are the tetrathionate reductase structural genes. Sequence analysis suggests that TtrA contains a molybdopterin guanine dinucleotide cofactor and a [4Fe-4S] cluster, that TtrB binds four [4Fe-4S] clusters, and that TtrC is an integral membrane protein containing a quinol oxidation site. TtrA and TtrB are predicted to be anchored by TtrC to the periplasmic face of the cytoplasmic membrane implying a periplasmic site for tetrathionate reduction. It is inferred that the tetrathionate reductase, together with thiosulphate and polysulphide reductases, make up a previously unrecognized class of molybdopterin-dependent enzymes that carry out the reductive cleavage of sulphur-sulphur bonds. Cys-256 in TtrA is proposed to be the amino acid ligand to the molybdopterin cofactor. TtrS and TtrR are the sensor and response regulator components of a two-component regulatory system that is absolutely required for transcription of the ttrBCA operon. Expression of an active tetrathionate reduction system also requires the anoxia-responsive global transcriptional regulator Fnr. The ttrRSBCA gene cluster confers on Escherichia coli the ability to respire with tetrathionate as electron acceptor.