The E. coli dam (DNA adenine methylase) enzyme is known to methylate the sequence GATC. A general method for cloning sequence-specific DNA methylase genes was used to isolate the dam gene on a 1.14 kb fragment, inserted in the plasmid vector pBR322. Subsequent restriction mapping and subcloning experiments established a set of approximate boundaries of the gene. The nucleotide sequence of the dam gene was determined, and analysis of that sequence revealed a unique open reading frame which corresponded in length to that necessary to code for a protein the size of dam. Amino acid composition derived from this sequence corresponds closely to the amino acid composition of the purified dam protein. Enzymatic and DNA:DNA hybridization methods were used to investigate the possible presence of dam genes in a variety of prokaryotic organisms.