Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 is a bacterium used in commercial probiotic preparations. R0052 contains a small, cryptic plasmid comprised of eight open reading frames, four of which encode proteins of unknown function. Based on the sequence of the replication initiation protein RepA, pIR52-1 is a member of the recently described RepA_N family of Gram-positive theta-replicating plasmids. The repA gene of pIR52-1 is the minimal origin of replication for L. helveticus and other Lactobacillus hosts. Additionally, pIR52-1 belongs to a subgroup of the RepA_N plasmid family which have RepA proteins of high amino acid identity and a conserved, non-coding element upstream of repA which, in pIR52-1, is responsible for the control of plasmid copy number and contributes to plasmid maintenance.