We have cloned and sequenced a gene from Lactobacillus reuteri that encodes a 56 kDa protein, which mediates autoaggregation of the bacteria. Using an antiserum raised against extracellular proteins from the pig intestinal isolate L. reuteri 1063, we screened a genomic λ library derived from the same strain. Affinity purification of recombinant protein from the isolated λ clones showed that one type of clone expressed a protein that efficiently aggregated the parental strain when added to the bacteria. Subcloning and introduction of the corresponding gene, here denoted aggH, into the L. reuteri type strain markedly enhanced aggregation. Furthermore, insertional inactivation of aggH in strain 1063 resulted in an autoaggregation-deficient phenotype. Finally, an affinity-purified and cleaved fusion of AggH protein and the maltose-binding protein, MBP, strongly promoted aggregation of L. reuteri 1063, whereas the uncleaved fusion protein was inactive. Sequencing of aggH revealed that the corresponding protein has extensive sequence homology to the large family of ATP-dependent DEAD-box helicases. These results are intriguing in view of earlier data on the promotion of genetic exchange in Lactobacillus by aggregation.