The role of ftsK in the growth of Escherichia coli was examined by turning off its expression. This resulted in smooth filaments without constrictions, indicating that FtsK was required at an early step in septation. Consistent with this, FtsK was found to localize to the septum in 70% of the cells, indicating that it was recruited relatively early in this process. FtsK localization required the function of FtsZ and FtsA but not FtsI and FtsQ. Consistent with this, Z rings were present in FtsK-depleted filaments. Subcellular localization of FtsK confirmed that it was a membrane protein. Only the first 202 amino acids of FtsK were essential for its role in membrane localization, cell division and viability. The expression of ftsK increased as part of the SOS response, and increased expression of ftsK conferred increased resistance to DNA damage.