The biochemical and morphological differentiation of actinomycetes makes them academically and economically interesting. Their secondary metabolites provide the majority of medically and agriculturally important antibiotics (streptomycete genes may also be the primary source of clinically important antibiotic resistance); their complex morphological developmental cycle involves a series of changes from vegetative mycelial growth to spore formation. Recombinant DNA technology would add a powerful new dimension to the analysis of these various aspects of actinomycete biology and would also facilitate the development of industrial strains with increased antibiotic yield, or capable of making new antibiotics. For most of these purposes, cloning of genes within and between actinomycetes is required to study the expression of particular genes in genetic backgrounds defined by mutations of the characters under study. To achieve this, we have now developed a method for molecular cloning involving the transfer of genes between unrelated streptomycetes.