The authors previously reported that most enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains do not express urease activity, despite having the urease gene. This study compared the nucleotide sequences of the urease gene clusters of a urease-activity-positive and a urease-activity-negative strain. The results showed that in the urease-activity-negative strain, ureD, a gene encoding a chaperone protein, had a single base substitution that encoded a premature stop codon resulting in a short ORF. The premature stop codon in ureD was commonly found in urease-activity-negative EHEC strains, but not in urease-activity-positive strains. Urease activity was detected after complementing the urease-activity-negative strain with ureD from the urease-activity-positive strain. Furthermore, introduction of the urease gene cluster from the urease-activity-negative strain into an amber suppressor phenotype Escherichia coli strain, DH5alpha, conferred the ability to produce the active urease. These results suggest that the lack of urease activity in most EHEC strains is due to a premature stop codon in ureD.