The respiratory system of a cyanide-resistant Klebsiella oxytoca was analyzed by monitoring the changes in the cytochrome contents in response to various inhibitors in the presence of various concentrations of cyanide. The cells grown in the medium without cyanide (KCN) have two terminal oxidases, cytochrome d (K(i)=10-5 M KCN) and o (K(i)=10-3 M KCN). When cells were grown on medium with 1 mM KCN, the expression of both b-type cytochrome and cytochrome d in the plasma membranes of the cell decreased by more than 50%, while cytochrome o increased by 70%, as compared with the cells grown in the absence of KCN. Two terminal oxidases with K(i) values of about 10-3 M and 1.7x10-2 M KCN were observed in the plasma membrane fractions of the cells growing on KCN enriched medium. 2-n-Heptyl-4-hydroxyquinoline-N-oxide markedly inhibited the oxidation of NADH by the plasma membranes from the cells grown in the medium without KCN, but not in those plasma membranes from KCN-grown cells. The NADH oxidases in plasma membranes of K. oxytoca grown with and without KCN were equally sensitive to UV irradiation. Adding freshly isolated quinone to the UV-damaged plasma membranes restored the NADH oxidase activity from both types of plasma membranes. From these results, we propose the presence of a non-heme type of terminal oxidase to account for the KCN resistance in K. oxytoca. Copyright (C) 1999 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.