A 1.3-kb restriction fragment carrying a cat gene derived from Staphylococcus aureus was inserted by ligation in both possible orientations into a HpaI restriction site located less than 300 bp from one end of Tn917. The resulting transposon derivatives were unimpaired in their ability to make and resolve transpositions into the chromosome of Bacillus subtilis and they displayed no detectable defect in expression of the inducible erm gene carried by the transposon. This demonstrates that the HpaI site itself, and perhaps the entire 250- to 300-bp region between the HpaI site and the nearest transposon terminal inverted repeat consists of nonessential DNA, and is there fore available to be modified or used as a cloning site with the expectation that the resulting transposon derivatives should be capable of normal transposition activity. To facilitate such manipulations, the HpaI site was "replaced" by a 24-bp DNA segment which contains a BamHI site flanked on either side by SmaI sites; these BamHI and SmaI sites are unique to the transposon. Several of the plasmid constructions undertaken in the course of this work illustrate ways in which homologous recombination may be used in conjunction with ligation in B. subtilis (and other bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, which have similar mechanisms for DNA uptake during competence) to facilitate significantly the recovery of certain kinds of recombinant molecules.