A macrorestriction map representing the complete physical map of the Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.1 chromosomes has been constructed by ordering the chromosomal DNA fragments from total genomic DNA digested with the restriction endonucleases AseI, SpeI, DraI, and SnaBI. Junction fragments and multiple restriction endonuclease digestions of the chromosomal DNAs derived from wild-type and various mutant strains, in conjunction with Southern hybridization analysis, have been used to order all of the chromosomal DNA fragments. Our results indicate that R. sphaeroides 2.4.1 carries two different circular chromosomes of 3,046 +/- 95 and 914 +/- 17 kilobases (kb). Both chromosome I (3,046 kb) and chromosome II (914 kb) contain rRNA cistrons. It appears that only a single copy of the rRNA genes is contained on chromosome I (rrnA) and that two copies are present on chromosome II (rrnB, rrnC). Additionally, genes for glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gapB) and delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase (hemT) are found on chromosome II. In each instance, there appears to be a second copy of each of these genes on chromosome I, but the extent of the DNA homology is very low. Genes giving rise to enzymes involved in CO2 fixation and linked to the gene encoding the form I enzyme (i.e., the form I region) are on chromosome I, whereas those genes representing the form II region are on chromosome II. The complete physical and partial genetic maps for each chromosome are presented.