Clostridium difficile is a nosocomial pathogen that causes a range of chronic intestinal diseases, usually as a result of antimicrobial therapy. Macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B (MLS) resistance in C. difficile is encoded by the Erm B resistance determinant, which is thought to be located on a conjugative transposon, Tn5398. The 9630 bp Tn5398 element has been cloned and completely sequenced and its insertion site determined. Analysis of the resultant data reveals that Tn5398 is not a classical conjugative transposon but appears to be a mobilizable non-conjugative element. It does not carry any transposase or site-specific recombinase genes, nor any genes likely to be involved in conjugation. Furthermore, using PCR analysis it has been shown that isolates of C. difficile obtained from different geographical locations exhibit heterogeneity in the genetic arrangement of both Tn5398 and their Erm B determinants. These results indicate that genetic exchange and recombination between these determinants occurs in the clinical and natural environment.