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Escherichia coli F-18 Col- was previously shown to be a poor colonizer of the streptomycin-treated mouse large intestine, relative to its parent, E. coli F-18. Prior to attempting to clone genes responsible for the colonization phenotype of E. coli F-18 into E. coli F-18 Col-, a suitable cloning vector had to be found. In this investigation, we report that the commonly used cloning vectors pBR322, pHC79, and pBR329 all segregate from E. coli F-18 Col- both when grown in L broth under conditions of nonselection (i.e., in vitro) and when fed to streptomycin-treated mice (i.e., in vivo). Insertion of the cer region (which promotes resolution of replicating plasmids into monomeric forms) into pHC79 stabilized this plasmid in E. coli F-18 Col- in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, two independent cer insertions into pBR329 did not stabilize the plasmid completely in E. coli F-18 Col- in vitro, and feeding the strain to streptomycin-treated mice resulted in rapid segregation of the plasmids in vivo. Also, stability of all three plasmids in E. coli F-18 Col- in vitro was achieved by insertion of the parB region of plasmid R1, which encodes a cell-killing protein, Hok, that is active only postsegregationally. However, as with cer, complete in vitro and in vivo stabilization was achieved only in parB constructs of pBR322 and pHC79.