The incA gene product of ColE2-P9 and ColE3-CA38 plasmids is an antisense RNA that regulates the production of the plasmid-coded Rep protein essential for replication. The Rep protein specifically binds to the origin and synthesizes a unique primer RNA at the origin. The IncB incompatibility is due to competition for the Rep protein among the origins of the same binding specificity. We localized the regions sufficient for autonomous replication of 15 ColE plasmids related to ColE2-P9 and ColE3-CA38 (ColE2-related plasmids), analyzed their incompatibility properties, and determined the nucleotide sequences of the replicon regions of 9 representative plasmids. The results suggest that all of these plasmids share common mechanisms for initiation of DNA replication and its control. Five IncA specificity types, 4 IncB specificity types, and 9 of the 20 possible combinations of the IncA and IncB types were found. The specificity of interaction of the Rep proteins and the origins might be determined by insertion or deletion of single nucleotides and substitution of several nucleotides at specific sites in the origins and by apparently corresponding insertion or deletion and substitution of amino acid sequences at specific regions in the C-terminal portions of the Rep proteins. For plasmids of four IncA specificity types, the nine-nucleotide sequences at the loop regions of the stem-loop structures of antisense RNAs are identical, suggesting an evolutionary significance of the sequence. The mosaic structures of the replicon regions with homologous and nonhomologous segments suggest that some of them were generated by exchanging functional parts through homologous recombination.