The recombinant plasmids pJIR45 and pJIR97 contain the chloramphenicol resistance determinants derived from the Clostridium perfringens R plasmids pIP401 and pJIR27, respectively. Escherichia coli cultures which harbored these recombinant plasmids rapidly became chloramphenicol sensitive when grown in the absence of chloramphenicol. The loss of resistance was associated with the loss of 6.2-kilobase (kb) segments from both plasmids. Detailed restriction analysis of E. coli- and C. perfringens-derived deletion plasmids indicated that deletion of these segments was essentially precise. Transposition of the 6.2-kb segments was demonstrated by cloning the determinants into a temperature-sensitive plasmid, curing the recombinant plasmids, and selecting chloramphenicol-resistant, plasmid-free clones. Southern hybridization analysis of chromosomal DNA isolated from these recA E. coli clones indicated that the 6.2-kb segments had transposed to different sites on the chromosome. Heteroduplex analysis and restriction mapping indicated that the transposons, Tn4451 (pIP401) and Tn4452 (pJIR27), were closely related and did not contain large inverted or directly repeated sequences. These transposons represent the first transposable elements from the clostridia to be identified and characterized.