Lambda bacteriophage development is impaired in Escherichia coli cells defective for peptidyl (pep)-tRNA hydrolase (Pth). Single-base-pair mutations (bar(-)) that affect translatable two-codon open reading frames named bar minigenes (barI or barII) in the lambda phage genome promote the development of this phage in Pth-defective cells (rap cells). When the barI minigene is cloned and overexpressed from a plasmid, it inhibits protein synthesis and cell growth in rap cells by sequestering tRNA(2)(Ile) as pep-tRNA(2)(Ile). Either tRNA(2)(Ile) or Pth may reverse these effects. In this paper we present evidence that both barI and barII minigenes are translatable elements that sequester tRNA(2)(Ile) as pep-tRNA(2)(Ile). In addition, overexpression of the barI minigene impairs the development even of bar(-) phages in rap cells. Interestingly, tRNA or Pth may reestablish lambda phage development. These results suggest that lambda bar minigenes are expressed and tRNA(2)(Ile) is sequestered as pep-tRNA(2)(Ile) during lambda phage development.