The multiple antibiotic resistance (mar) operon of Escherichia coli is a paradigm for chromosomally encoded antibiotic resistance in enteric bacteria. The locus is recognised for its ability to modulate efflux pump and porin expression via two encoded transcription factors, MarR and MarA. Here we map binding of these regulators across the E. coli genome and identify an extensive mar regulon. Most notably, MarA activates expression of genes required for DNA repair and lipid trafficking. Consequently, the mar locus reduces quinolone-induced DNA damage and the ability of tetracyclines to traverse the outer membrane. These previously unrecognised mar pathways reside within a core regulon, shared by most enteric bacteria. Hence, we provide a framework for understanding multidrug resistance, mediated by analogous systems, across the Enterobacteriaceae.