Glycopeptide resistant Enterococcus faecium (GREF) persists on Norwegian poultry farms despite the ban on the growth promoter avoparcin. The biological basis for long-term persistence of avoparcin resistance is not fully understood. This study presents the complete DNA sequence of the E. faecium R-plasmid pVEF3 and functional studies of some plasmid-encoded traits (a toxin-antitoxin (TA) system and an ABC transporter) that may be of importance for plasmid persistence. The pVEF3 (63.1 kbp), isolated from an E. faecium strain of poultry origin sampled in Norway in 1999, has 71 coding sequences including the vanA avoparcin/vancomycin resistance encoding gene cluster. pVEF3 encodes the TA system omega-epsilon-zeta, and plasmid stability tests and transcription analysis show that omega-epsilon-zeta is functional in Enterococcus faecalis OGIX, although with decreasing effect over time. The predicted ABC transporter was not found to confer reduced susceptibility to any of the 28 substances tested. The TA system identified in the pVEF-type plasmids may contribute to vanA plasmid persistence on Norwegian poultry farms. However, size and compositional heterogeneity among E. faecium vanA plasmids suggest that additional plasmid maintenance systems in combination with host specific factors and frequent horizontal gene transfer and rearrangement causes the observed plasmid composition and distribution patterns.