Background Chorismate mutases of the AroQ homology class are widespread in the Bacteria and the Archaea. Many of these exist as domains that are fused with other aromatic-pathway catalytic domains. Among the monofunctional AroQ proteins, that from Erwinia herbicola was previously shown to have a cleavable signal peptide and located in the periplasmic compartment. Whether or not this might be unique to E. herbicola was unknown. Results The gene coding for the AroQ protein was cloned from Salmonella typhimurium, and the AroQ protein purified from both S. typhimurium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was shown to have a periplasmic location. The periplasmic chorismate mutases (denoted *AroQ) are shown to be a distinct subclass of AroQ, being about twice the size of cytoplasmic AroQ proteins. The increased size is due to a carboxy-terminal extension of unknown function. In addition, a so-far novel aromatic aminotransferase was shown to be present in the periplasm of P. aeruginosa. Conclusions Our analysis has detected a number of additional *aroQ genes. The joint presence of *AroQ, cyclohexadienyl dehydratase and aromatic aminotransferase in the periplasmic compartment of P. aeruginosa comprises a complete chorismate-to-phenylalanine pathway and accounts for the "hidden overflow pathway" to phenylalanine described previously.