Type III secretion systems are utilized by a number of gram-negative bacterial pathogens to deliver virulence-associated proteins into host cells. Using a PCR-based approach, we identified homologs of type III secretion genes in the gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia cepacia, an important pulmonary pathogen in immunocompromised patients and patients with cystic fibrosis. One of the genes, designated bscN, encodes a member of a family of ATP-binding proteins believed to generate energy driving virulence protein secretion. Genetic dissection of the regions flanking the bscN gene revealed a locus consisting of at least 10 open reading frames, predicted to encode products with significant homology to known type III secretion proteins in other bacteria. A defined null mutation was generated in the bscN gene, and the null strain and wild-type parent strain were examined by use of a murine model of B. cepacia infection. Quantitative bacteriological analysis of the lungs and spleens of infected C57BL/6 mice revealed that the bscN null strain was attenuated in virulence compared to the parent strain, with significantly lower bacterial recovery from the lungs and spleens at 3 days postinfection. Moreover, histopathological changes, including an inflammatory cell infiltrate, were more pronounced in the lungs of mice infected with the wild-type parent strain than in those of mice infected with the isogenic bscN mutant. These results implicate type III secretion as an important determinant in the pathogenesis of B. cepacia.