A novel thioredoxin-linked thiol peroxidase (Px) from Escherichia coli has been reported previously (M. K. Cha, H. K. Kim, and I. H. Kim, J. Biol. Chem. 270:28635-28641, 1995). In an attempt to perform physiological and biochemical characterizations of the thiol Px, a thiol Px null (tpx) mutant and a functional-residue mutant of thiol Px were produced. The tpx mutant was viable in aerobic culture but grew more slowly than the wild-type cells. The difference in growth rate became more pronounced when oxidative-stress-inducing reagents, such as peroxides and paraquat, were added to the cultures. The viability of the individual tpx mutant under oxidative stress was much lower than that of wild-type cells. tpx mutants growing aerobically respond to paraquat with a sixfold greater induction of Mn-superoxide dismutase than that of the wild-type cells. The deduced amino acid sequence of the thiol Px was found to be from 42 to 72% identical to the sequences of proteins from Haemophilus influenzae (ToxR regulon), Vibrio cholerae (ToxR regulon), and three kinds of streptococci (coaggregation-mediating adhesins), suggesting that they all belong to a new thiol Px family. Alignment of the amino acid sequences of the thiol Px family members showed that one cysteine, which corresponds to Cys-94 in E. coli thiol Px, is perfectly conserved. The substitution of serine for this cysteine residue resulted in complete loss of Px activity. These results suggest that the members of the thiol Px family, including E. coli thiol Px, have a functional cysteine residue and function in vivo as peroxidases.