Several versatile, multi-copy, promoter-probe plasmid vectors have been constructed that replicate in a wide range of Streptomyces species. Transcriptional activity is detected by the expression of a promoter-less aminoglycoside phosphotransferase gene (neo) derived from the transposon Tn5; expression of this gene confers kanamycin and neomycin resistance on Streptomyces lividans. An efficient transcriptional terminator from E. coli phage fd has been inserted upstream of the neo coding region to prevent significant transcriptional read-through from vector promoters. A translational stop codon situated downstream from the site(s) used for cloning and preceding and in frame with the ATG start codon of the neo gene ensures the detection of transcriptional, rather than translational, fusions. Relative promoter strengths can be determined by gradient plate assays of kanamycin resistance, by measuring the amount of aminoglycoside phosphotransferase produced or by estimating neo mRNA synthesised. The high copy number of the vectors facilitates the rapid isolation and characterisation of promoter-active fragments and convenient restriction sites are available for DNA sequencing and S1 mapping of cloned inserts. Some derivatives contain a polylinker that facilitates the insertion, excision and analysis of cloned fragments and which enhances the use of these plasmids as general cloning vectors.