Previous work on the lactose permease of Escherichia coli has shown that mutations alonga face of predicted transmembrane segment 2 (TMS-2) play a critical role in conformational changes associated with lactose transport [Green, A. L., Anderson, E. J., and Brooker, R. J. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 23240-23246]. In the current study, mutagenesis was conducted along the side of predicted TMS-8 that contains the first amino acid in the conserved loop 8/9 motif. Several substitutions at positions 261, 265, 272, and 276 were markedly defective for downhill lactose transport although these mutants were well expressed. Substitutions along the entire side of TMS-8 containing the first amino acid in the loop 8/9 motif displayed defects in uphill lactose transport. Again, substitutions at positions 261, 265, 268, 272, and 276 were the most defective, with several of these mutants showing no lactose accumulation against a gradient. According to helical wheel plots, Phe-261, Thr-265, Gly-268, Asn-272, and Met-276 form a continuous stripe along one face of TMS-8. These results are discussed according to our hypothetical model, in which the two halves of the protein form a rotationally symmetrical dimer. In support of this model, alignment of predicted TMS-2 and TMS-8 shows an agreement between the amino acid residues in these transmembrane segments that are critical for lactose transport activities.