Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 initiates the catabolism of biphenyl by adding dioxygen to the aromatic nucleus to form (+)-cis-(2R, 3S)-dihydroxy-1-phenylcyclohexa-4,6-diene. The present study focuses on the biphenyl 2,3-dioxygenase system, which catalyzes the dioxygenation reaction. This enzyme has been shown to have a broad substrate range, catalyzing the dioxygenation of not only biphenyl, but also three- and four-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Extracts prepared from biphenyl-grown B1 cells contained three protein components that were required for the oxidation of biphenyl. The genes encoding the three components (bphA4, bphA3 and bphA1f,A2f) were expressed in Escherichia coli. Biotransformations of biphenyl, naphthalene, phenanthrene, and benzo[a]pyrene as substrates using the recombinant E. coli strain resulted in the formation of the expected cis-dihydrodiol products previously shown to be produced by biphenyl-induced strain B1. The three protein components were purified to apparent homogeneity and characterized in detail. The reductase component (bphA4), designated reductase(BPH-B1), was a 43 kD monomer containing one mol FAD/mol reductase(BPH-B1). The ferredoxin component (bphA3), designated ferredoxin(BPH-B1), was a 12 kD monomer containing approximately 2 g-atoms each of iron and acid-labile sulfur. The oxygenase component (bphA1f,A2f), designated oxygenase(BPH-B1), was a 217 kD heterotrimer consisting of alpha and beta subunits (approximately 51 and 21 kD, respectively). The iron and acid-labile sulfur contents of oxygenase(BPH-B1) per alphabeta were 2.4 and 1.8 g-atom per mol, respectively. Reduced ferredoxin(BPH-B1) and oxygenase(BPH-B1) each gave EPR signals typical of Rieske [2Fe-2S] proteins. Crystals of reductase(BPH-B1), ferredoxin(BPH-B1) and oxygenase(BPH-B1 )diffracted to 2.5 A, 2.0 A and 1.75 A, respectively. The structures of the three proteins are currently being determined.