An Escherichia coli DNA fragment was identified that contained part of the β-glucoside (bgl) operon. This fragment was identified because it contained a promoter that was responsible for the expression of a reporter gene, the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene, in a mouse liver during bacterial infection but not when a bacterial clone was grown in vitro. This fragment contained a promoter and a rho-independent transcription terminator which were flanked by the 3' end of bglG and the 5' end of bglF. Reverse transcription-PCR confirmed that cat-specific mRNA was produced in infected mouse liver but not in vitro. mRNA encoding the positive regulator of the bgl operon, bglG, also was detected in mouse liver infected with an E. coli strain. These results demonstrated that expression of the bgl operon occurs in infected mouse liver and suggests a unique role for this operon in vivo.