A fix region of Rhizobium meliloti 41 involved both in symbiotic nodule development and in the adsorption of bacteriophage 16-3 was delimited by directed Tn5 mutagenesis. Mutations in this DNA region were assigned to four complementation units and were mapped close to the pyr-2 and pyr-29 chromosomal markers. Phage inactivation studies with bacterial cell envelope preparations and crude lipopolysaccharides (LPS) as well as preliminary characterization of LPS in the mutants indicated that these genes are involved in the synthesis of a strain-specific LPS. Mutations in this DNA region resulted in a Fix- phenotype in AK631, an exopolysaccharide (EPS)-deficient derivative of R. meliloti 41; however, they did not influence the symbiotic efficiency of the parent strain. An exo region able to restore the EPS production of AK631 was isolated and shown to be homologous to the exoB region of R. meliloti SU47. By generating double mutants, we demonstrated that exo and lps genes determine similar functions in the course of nodule development, suggesting that EPS and LPS may provide equivalent information for the host plant.