A genomic library of the extremely thermophilic eubacterial strain Rt8B.4 was constructed in λZapII and screened for the expression of xylanase activity. One recombinant bacteriophage showed xylanase, xylosidase and arabinosidase activity. Sequence analysis and homology comparisons showed that this plasmid derivative, pNZ2011, was composed of 6.7 kb thermophilic DNA and contained what appeared to be an operon-like structure involving genes associated with xylose metabolism. The xylanase gene, xynA was shown to code for a multi-domain protein. Xylanase activity was shown to be associated with the carboxy-terminal domain (domain 2) by deletion analysis and also by selective polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and expression of the individual domains. Denaturing polyacrylamide gel analysis of the protein encoded by the PCR product showed three main overexpressed proteins to be present in cell extracts, presumably caused by proteolytic degradation in the Escherichia coli host. The xylanase activity from domain 2 is associated with a 36-kDa protein, which is stable at 70°C for at least 12 h at pH 7. The small size of this active enzymatic domain and its temperature stability suggest that it may be of value in the enzyme-enhanced bleaching of kraft pulp.