We have constructed a series of derivatives of the omega interposon [Prentki and Krisch, Gene 29 (1984) 303-313] that can be used for in vitro insertional mutagenesis. Each of these DNA fragments carries a different antibiotic or Hg2+ resistance gene (ApR, CmR, TcR, KmR or HgR) which is flanked, in inverted orientation, by transcription and translation termination signals and by synthetic polylinkers. The DNA of these interposons can be easily purified and then inserted, by in vitro ligation, into a plasmid linearized either at random by DNase I or at specific sites by restriction enzymes. Plasmid molecules which contain an interposon insertion can be identified by expression of its drug resistance. The position of the interposon can be precisely mapped by the restriction sites in the flanking polylinker. To verify their properties we have used these omega derivatives to mutagenize a broad host range plasmid which contains the entire meta-cleavage pathway of the toluene degradation plasmid pWW0 of Pseudomonas putida. Insertion of these interposons in the plasmid between the promoter and the catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23O) gene dramatically reduced the expression of this enzyme in Escherichia coli. We also show that when a plasmid containing an omega interposon is transferred by conjugal mobilization from E. coli to P. putida, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Erwinia chrysanthemi, Paracoccus denitrificans or Rhizobium leguminosarum, the appropriate interposon drug resistance is usually expressed and, compared to the non-mutated plasmid, much reduced levels of C23O activity are detected. Thus, the selection and/or characterization of omega insertional mutations can be carried out in these bacterial species.