Our study was initiated by previous isolation of 30 imipenem-resistant, gram-negative rods from 7 of 16 U.S. rivers sampled from 1999 to 2001. Imipenem hydrolysis was detected in 22 of those isolates identified as Enterobacter asburiae. Random amplified polymorphism DNA analysis showed that these E. asburiae isolates were genetically indistinguishable. An identical clavulanic acid-inhibited beta-lactamase IMI-2 was identified from each isolate that shared 99% and 97% amino acid identity with the chromosome-encoded beta-lactamases IMI-1 and NmcA, respectively, from E. cloacae clinical isolates. The blaIMI-2 gene was located on a self-transferable 66-kb plasmid. Sequence analysis of a cloned 5.5-kb DNA fragment obtained from 1 of the imipenem-resistant E. asburiae isolates identified an upstream LysR-type regulator gene that explained inducibility of IMI-2 expression. beta-Lactamase IMI-2 is the first inducible and plasmid-encoded carbapenemase. Identification of clonally related E. asburiae isolates from distant rivers indicates an environmental and enterobacterial reservoir for carbapenemase genes.