Ribosome releasing factor, product of the frr gene in Escherichia coli, is responsible for dissociation of ribosomes from mRNA after the termination of translation. It functions to "recycle" ribosomes and is renamed ribosome recycling factor in this paper. An E. coli strain was constructed (MC1061-2), which carried frame-shifted frr in the chromosome and wild-type frr on a temperature-sensitive plasmid. MC1061-2 is temperature-sensitive in its growth and does not segregate its frr-carrying plasmid under the plasmid incompatibility pressure. In contrast, isogenic E. coli carrying wild-type frr in the chromosome and mutated frr on the temperature-sensitive plasmid is not temperature-sensitive in its growth and segregates its plasmid from incompatible plasmids. All spontaneously formed thermoresistant colonies derived from MC1061-2 carried wild-type frr that resided either in the bacterial chromosome by re-exchange or in the plasmid, which became temperature-resistant. These observations establish that frr is an essential gene for cell growth.