Mycoplasmas are wall-less prokaryotes phylogenetically related to gram-positive bacteria. In order to investigate DNA recombination in these organisms, we have cloned the recA gene from the mycoplasma Acholeplasma laidlawii. DNA sequence data indicate extensive homology between the A. laidlawii recA gene and recA genes from other bacteria, particularly Bacillus subtilis. The recA sequences from three A. laidlawii strains (strains JA1, K2, and 8195) were compared, and surprisingly, the gene from A. laidlawii 8195 was found to contain a nonsense mutation that results in truncation of 36 amino acids from the carboxyl terminus of the RecA protein. By using sensitivity to UV irradiation as a measure of DNA repair, strain 8195 had an apparent RecA- phenotype. When carried on a multicopy plasmid, the wild-type A. laidlawii recA gene was detrimental to growth of Escherichia coli, perhaps because of improper regulation of the RecA protein.