In this paper we describe isolation of a bacterium capable of degrading both isomers of the organochloride insecticide endosulfan and its toxic metabolite, endosulfate. The bacterium was isolated from a soil microbial population that was enriched with continuous pressure to use endosulfate as the sole source of sulfur. Analysis of the 16S rRNA sequence of the bacterium indicated that it was an Arthrobacter species. The organochloridedegrading activity was not observed in the presence of sodium sulfite as an alternative sulfur source, suggesting that the activity was part of the sulfur starvation response of the strain. A gene, ese, encoding an enzyme capable of degrading both isomers of endosulfan and endosulfate was isolated from this bacterium. The enzyme belongs to the two-component flavin-dependent monooxygenase family whose members require reduced flavin for activity. Nuclear magnetic resonance analyses identified the metabolite of endosulfan as endosulfan monoalcohol and the metabolite of endosulfate as endosulfan hemisulfate. The ese gene was located in a cluster of 10 open reading frames encoding proteins with low levels of sulfur-containing amino acids. These open reading frames were organized into two apparent divergently orientated operons and a gene encoding a putative LysR-type transcriptional regulator. The operon not containing ese did contain a homologue whose product exhibited 62% amino acid identity to the ese-encoded protein.