Summary: Many strains of the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae contain mutually compatible plasmids that share extensive regions of sequence homology and essential replication determinants. The replication regions of two compatible large plasmids involved in virulence or pathogenicity, pPT23A from P. syringae pv. tomato strain PT23 and pAV505 from P. syringae pv. phaseolicola strain HRI1302A, were isolated. DNA sequencing of the origins of replication revealed homologous ORFs, designated ORF-Pto and ORF-Pph, respectively. Both ORFs are 1311 bp long and encode peptides of 437 amino acids with predicted molecular masses of 48259 (Pto) and 48334 (Pph) Da. Expression of the two ORFs in Escherichia coli produced peptides of 50 kDa (Pto) and 56 kDa (Pph). The predicted peptides showed an overall identity of 89·7%, being highly conserved from residues 1 to 373, but showing considerable variation in their C-terminal regions (50% identity over the last 64 aa). The two ORFs had significant similarity with the putative replication protein from plasmid pTiK12 of Thiobacillus intermedius and other ColE2-related plasmids. However, both peptides were 100 residues longer than any of the known ColE2-related rep sequences. Subcloning of fragments from the replication region of pPT23A revealed the presence of at least three incompatibility determinants, designated IncA, IncB and IncC. Partial sequencing of the region downstream of ORF-Pto revealed homology to the rulAB genes, involved in UV resistance, from plasmid pPSR1. It is proposed that the replication origin of pPT23A serves as the prototype of a family of related plasmids.