The lactococcal plasmid pNP40, from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis DRC3, confers complete resistance to the prolate-headed phage phi c2 and the small isometric-headed phage phi 712 in L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1614. A 6.0-kb NcoI fragment of pNP40 cloned in the lactococcal Escherichia coli shuttle vector pAM401 was found to confer partial resistance to phi 712. Subcloning and deletion analysis of the recombinant plasmid pPG01 defined a 2.5-kb ScaIHpaI fragment as conferring phage insensitivity. Sequence analysis of this region confirmed the presence of two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs). Further subcloning of pNP40 to characterize the resistance determinant active against phi c2 identified a 5.6-kb EcoRV fragment of pNP40 which, when cloned in pAM401, conferred partial resistance to both phi c2 and phi 712. Subcloning and deletion analysis of the recombinant plasmid pCG1 defined a 3.7-kb EcoRV-XbaI fragment as encoding phage insensitivity. DNA sequence analysis of this region revealed the presence of a single complete ORF. The introduction of a frameshift mutation at the unique BglII site within this ORF disrupted the phage resistance phenotype, confirming that this ORF is responsible for the observed phage insensitivity. The mechanisms encoded by pPG01 and pCG1 in L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1614 conformed to the criteria defining abortive infection and were designated AbiE and AbiF, respectively. Analysis of the phage DNA content of phi 712-infected hosts containing AbiF demonstrated that it inhibited the rate of phage DNA replication, while AbiE had little effect on phage DNA replication, suggesting a later target of inhibition. The predicted protein product of abiF shows significant homology to the products of two other lactococcal abortive infection genes, abiD and abiD1.