The location of the cpe gene, encoding the enterotoxin responsible for food poisoning in humans, has been studied in a series of enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens strains by means of pulsed field gel electrophoresis of genomic DNA. The cpe gene was found at the same chromosomal locus in strains associated with food poisoning in humans and was shown to be linked to a repetitive sequence, the HindIII repeat, and an open reading frame, ORF3, that may be part of an insertion sequence. In contrast, when the strains originated from domesticated livestock cpe was located on a large episome where it was often close to a copy of the transposable element IS1151. In these cases, the HindIII repeat was not linked to the cpe gene although this was generally preceded by ORF3.