The temperature-sensitive Bacillus subtilis tms-26 mutant strain was characterized biochemically and shown to be defective in N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate uridyltransferase activity. At the permissive temperature (34 degrees C), the mutant strain contained about 15% of the wild-type activity of this enzyme, whereas at the nonpermissive temperature (48 degrees C), the mutant enzyme was barely detectable. Furthermore, the N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate uridyltransferase activity of the tms-26 mutant strain was much more heat labile in vitro than that of the wild-type strain. The level of N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate, the substrate of the uridyltransferase activity, was elevated more than 40-fold in the mutant strain at the permissive temperature compared with the level in the wild-type strain. During a temperature shift, the level of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, the product of the uridyltransferase activity, decreased much more in the mutant strain than in the wild-type strain. An Escherichia coli strain harboring the wild-type version of the tms-26 allele on a plasmid contained increased N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate uridyltransferase activity compared with that in the haploid strain. It is suggested that the gene for N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate uridyltransferase in B. subtilis be designated gcaD.