[en] The glycosyl transferase of the Escherichia coli bifunctional penicillin-binding protein (PBP) 1b catalyzes the assembly of lipid-transported N-acetylglucosaminyl-beta-1,4-N-acetylmuramoyl-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-meso-A(2)pm-D-Ala-D-Ala units (lipid II) into linear peptidoglycan chains. These units are linked, at C1 of N-acetylmuramic acid (MurNAc), to a C-55 undecaprenyl pyrophosphate. In an in vitro assay, lipid II functions both as a glycosyl donor and as a glycosyl acceptor substrate. Using substrate analogues, it is suggested that the specificity of the enzyme for the glycosyl donor substrate differs from that for the acceptor. The donor substrate requires the presence of both N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) and MurNAc and a reactive group on C1 of the MurNAc and does not absolutely require the lipid chain which can be replaced by uridine. The enzyme appears to prefer an acceptor substrate containing a polyprenyl pyrophosphate on C1 of the MurNAc sugar. The problem of glycan chain elongation that presumably proceeds by the repetitive addition of disaccharide peptide units at their reducing end is discussed.