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The relaxation of plasmid DNA was observed after the visible light irradiation of Escherichia coli AB1157 harboring plasmid pBR322 or some other plasmids in the presence of a photosensitizing dye, such as toluidine blue or acridine orange, and molecular oxygen. Treatment of the cells with hydroperoxides, such as tert-butyl hydroperoxide, cumene hydroperoxide, and hydrogen peroxide, also caused the plasmid DNA relaxation in vivo. Relaxation was not observed in these treatments of purified pBR322 DNA in vitro. Plasmid DNA relaxation was also detected after near-UV irradiation. Far-UV irradiation did not induce such relaxation.