HtrA, also known as DegP and probably identical to the Do protease, is a heat shock-induced serine protease that is active in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. Homologues of HtrA have been described in a wide range of bacteria and in eukaryotes. Its chief role is to degrade misfolded proteins in the periplasm. Substrate recognition probably involves the recently described PDZ domains in the C-terminal half of HtrA and, we suspect, has much in common with the substrate recognition system of the tail-specific protease, Prc (which also possesses a PDZ domain). The expression of htrA is regulated by a complex set of signal transduction pathways, which includes an alternative sigma factor, RpoE, an anti-sigma factor, RseA, a two-component regulatory system, CpxRA, and two phosphoprotein phosphatases, PrpA and PrpB. Mutations in the htrA genes of Salmonella, Brucella and Yersinia cause decreased survival in mice and/or macrophages, and htrA mutants can act as vaccines, as cloning hosts and as carriers of heterologous antigens.