A transposon Tn917 mutant of Listeria monocytogenes L028 was isolated on the basis of reduced growth on agar adjusted to, pH 5.5. The disrupted gene, designated btlA (bile tolerance locus), encodes a putative secondary transporter of the major facilitator superfamily, which has significant homology to yxiO in Bacillus subtilis (lmol417 in L. monocytogenes EGDe). The mutant demonstrated decreased growth rates relative to the wild-type when grown in sub-lethal levels of various stressors (acid, salt, ethanol, bile, SDS, ampicillin and phosphomycin). The mutant was also more sensitive to lethal levels of bile. A pORI19 insertion mutant demonstrated similar phenotypes. Murine virulence studies indicated that disruption of btlA does not influence virulence potential. BtlA therefore represents a membrane protein essential for the maintenance of homeostasis under stress conditions, but is not involved in pathogenicity. (C) 2002 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.