Streptococcus mutans DL5, isolated from the dental plaque of a pig, was resistant to high levels of streptomycin (Sm, 20 mg/ml), erythromycin (Em, 1 mg/ml), and tetracycline (Tc, greater than 100 micrograms/ml), but contained no detectable plasmid DNA. The Smr and Emr determinants were cloned from cellular DNA on the self-replicating 5-kilobase-pair (kbp) EcoRI fragment of pAM beta 1 and the 4.2-kbp cryptic plasmid pVA380-1, respectively, by transformation of Streptococcus sanguis Challis. Helper plasmid cloning, with a Challis host containing pVA380-1, was required to clone the Tcr determinant of strain DL5 on this vector. A single-colony isolate of the original Tcr clone contained a hybrid plasmid, pDL421, composed of 2.6 kbp of vector DNA and 11.4 kbp of S. mutans DNA. Plasmid pDL421 did not hybridize to plasmids containing the streptococcal Tcr determinants tetL, tetM, and tetN. A shortened derivative of this hybrid plasmid, pDL422, missing a 4.9-kbp HincII fragment from the S. mutans DNA but still encoding Tcr, was obtained by subcloning in S. sanguis Challis. The Tcr gene was located in a 1,917-base-pair open reading frame (ORF) corresponding to a 72-kilodalton protein. The ORF exhibited 99.4% sequence identity with the 1,917-base-pair tetO gene from a strain of Campylobacter coli (W. Sougakoff, B. Papadopoulou, P. Nordmann, and P. Courvalin, FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 44:153-160, 1987). A 1.67-kbp NdeI fragment, internal to the ORF from strain DL5, as well as pDL421 hybridized under stringent conditions to DNA from 10 of 10 Tcr strains of C. coli and Campylobacter jejuni from human and animal sources, but not to DNA from Tcs isolates of these two species.