Abstract β-Lactamase genes of class-A (Rtem) and class-C (ampC) were placed under control of an inducible tac-promoter and expressed in Escherichia coli. Expression of RTEM had no observable effect on the growth properties of E. coli strains HB101 (ampC+) or MI1443 (ΔampC). E. coli MI1443 exhibited a decline in growth rate at mid-exponential phase which could be delayed by expression of AmpC at early-exponential phase. AmpC expression otherwise inhibited growth, particularly during the transition into exponential phase where growth was prevented altogether. We suggest that the AmpC β-lactamase, but not RTEM, may have an additional cellular function as a peptidoglycan hydrolase.