The ardA gene of the enterobacterial plasmid CollbP-9 acts to alleviate restriction of DNA by type I systems, while psiB inhibits induction of the bacterial SOS response. Both genes are transferred early in a round of bacterial conjugation as part of the plasmid leading region. We report here that ardA and psiB are transcribed transiently after their conjugative transport into the recipient cell. Transcript levels, monitored by competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) amplification of RNA templates, started to increase about 5 min after the initiation of conjugation in a cell population and probably before the first round of plasmid transfer was completed. Genetic evidence is given that the expression of ardA and psiB is activated when the genes enter the recipient cell on the transferring plasmid strand. It is proposed that these and other leading region genes function to promote the establishment of the immigrant plasmid in the new host and are expressed by transcription from promoters active only in single-stranded DNA.