Yersinia enterocolitica 29930 (biotype 1A; O : 7,8), the producing strain of the phage-tail-like bacteriocin enterocoliticin, possesses a plasmid-encoded conjugative type IV transfer system. The genes of the conjugative system were found by screening of a cosmid library constructed from total DNA of strain 29930. The cosmid Cos100 consists of the vector SuperCos1 and an insert DNA of 40 303 bp derived from a cryptic plasmid of strain 29930. The conjugative transfer system consists of genes encoding a DNA transfer and replication system (Dtr) with close relationship to the mob region of the mobilizable plasmid CloDF13 and a gene cluster encoding a mating pair formation system (Mpf) closely related to the Mpf system of the IncX plasmid R6K. However, a gene encoding a homologue of TaxB, the coupling protein of the IncX system, is missing. The whole transfer region has a size of approximately 17 kb. The recombinant plasmid Cos100 was shown to be transferable between Escherichia coli and Yersinia with transfer frequencies up to 0.1 transconjugants per donor. Mutations generated by inserting a tetracycline cassette into putative tri genes yielded a transfer-deficient phenotype. Conjugative transfer of the cryptic plasmid could not be demonstrated in the original host Y. enterocolitica 29930. However, a kanamycin-resistance-conferring derivative of the plasmid was successfully introduced into E. coli K-12 by transformation and was shown to be self-transmissible. Furthermore, Southern blot hybridization and PCR experiments were carried out to elucidate the distribution of the conjugative transfer system in Yersinia. In total, six Y. enterocolitica biotype 1A strains harbouring closely related systems on endogenous plasmids were identified.