A phage directing the synthesis of an abundant 45-kD Treponema pallidum surface protein was isolated from an EMBL-4 bacteriophage lambda library of T. pallidum DNA. The recombinant phage was identified using an mAb that was directed toward an immunodominant, outer envelope T. pallidum protein designated P6. The recombinant P6 protein possessed the same mol mass as the native treponemal antigen detected from total T. pallidum protein preparations, confirming the cloning of the structural gene for this molecule. Furthermore, E. coli was transformed by a 4.5-kb Eco RI lambda insert fragment subcloned into the plasmid vector pUC19. These transformed cells expressed and translocated the 45-kD protein to their outer membranes. Finally, all sera from patients with different stages of syphilis (primary, secondary, and latent) contained antibody reactive to this protein.