pUCL22 is the lactose protease plasmid of Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis CNRZ270. The nucleotide sequence of its replication region Rep22 contains a non-transcribed region, the replication origin, followed by a gene encoding a putative 388-amino-acid protein named Rep22A. The promoter regions of the rep22A and pC194 cat genes share strong similarities and the pUCL22 replicon exerted trans or cis negative control on the pC194 cat gene expression in L. lactis. We suggest that Rep22A binds to its own promoter as well as to the pC194 cat promoter and thus is autoregulated. We show that pUCL22 replicates mainly by a bidirectional theta mechanism in L. lactis, and is representative of a widely distributed replicon family, members of which could be co-resident. We propose that compatibility between these closely related replicons results from minor replication protein modifications coupled with base changes in their respective binding sites, supporting the co-existence of numerous related replicons in lactococcal strains.