Clostridium perfringens strain CPN50 harbours a 10.2 kb plasmid known as pIP404 which, in addition to a set of UV-inducible genes involved in bacteriocin production, carries res, a gene probably encoding a site-specific recombinase. The RES protein is highly homologous to the resolvases of transposons from both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria as well as enzymes involved in site-specific DNA inversion. A likely role for the RES protein would be to stabilize pIP404 by reducing the number of plasmid multimers resulting from homologous recombination. A putative resolution site for RES action was found overlapping the res promoter. Phylogenetic analysis of the primary structures of ten site-specific recombinases suggested a common descent and showed the RES protein to be closest to the resolvase encoded by Tn917 from Streptococcus faecalis.