Long-term cultivation of the Pseudomonas putida multiplasmid strain EST1020 on phenol resulted in the formation of individual PHE plasmids determining phenol degradation. Four types of PHE plasmids, pEST1024, pEST1026, pEST1028, and pEST1029, are characterized. They all contain a transferrable replicon similar to pWWO-8 with a partly duplicated DNA sequence of the 17-kb transposable element of this plasmid and include various amounts of DNA that carry genes encoding phenol degradation (phe genes). We cloned the genes determining phenol monooxygenase and catechol 1,2-dioxygenase from the Pseudomonas sp. parent strain plasmid DNA into the broad host range vector pAYC32 and studied the expression of the cloned DNA. The formation of a new hybrid metabolic plasmid, pEST1354, was demonstrated in P. putida PaW85 as the result of transposition of the 17-kb genetic element from the chromosome of PaW85 into the plasmid carrying cloned phe genes. The target site for the 17-kb transposon was localized in the vector DNA, just near the cloning site. In subcloning experiments we found two regions in the 17-kb DNA stretch that are involved in the expression of the cloned phe genes.