Four shuttle vectors (pMIG 1, 2, 2H and 3) have been constructed based on the broad host-range plasmid pCK1. All the pMIG vectors possess a multiple cloning site containing 12 or more unique restriction enzyme sites, and are stably maintained at either high or low copy number in Lactococcus lactis and in Escherichia coli. By cloning the E. coli pUC replicon into one of these vectors a plasmid was constructed which can replicate to high copy number in recA strains of E. coli. The broad host-range of the pCK1 replicon may enable these cloning vectors to be used in a number of Gram-positive bacteria. One of these vectors was used to optimize an electroporation procedure for transformation of a commonly used plasmid-cured strain MG1363 of L. lactis which routinely yielded 1 x 10(7) to 5 x 10(7) transformants micrograms-1 supercoiled DNA using stored, snap-frozen cells. This transformation efficiency was obtained by growing the cells in medium containing the cell wall weakening agent glycine, to an upper limit of 2.5% w/v. Although growth of L. lactis strain MG1363 was inhibited by the use of 0.5 mol l-1 sucrose as an osmotic stabilizer, the presence of sucrose in the electroporation buffer was critical for high transformation efficiency. Other variables which were tested for their effect on the efficiency of transformation were cell concentration, DNA concentration, pulse time and field strength. These results provide a model procedure which can be followed to optimize conditions for the genetic transformation of various strains of L. lactis.