Pectate lyase (Pel) plays a crucial role in the maceration of vegetables by soft rot Erwinia spp. We have characterized the four Pel isoenzymes of Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovora strain SCRI193. In this paper we concentrate on two isoenzymes which have different locations in SCRI193: PLb is periplasmic and PLc is extracellular. Comparison of the gene products and nucleotide sequences of pelB and pelC allowed us to assign them to different gene families. In addition, we have identified a number of conserved amino acid residues that are common to all extracellular Pel isoenzymes.