In artificial environmental samples, the behavior of the IncP-7 conjugative plasmid pCAR1, which is involved in the catabolism of carbazole, was monitored. Sterile soil and water samples supplemented with carbazole were prepared. After inoculation with Pseudomonas putida harboring pCAR1, seven species of the genus Pseudomonas, and three other bacterial species, were monitored for carbazole degradation, bacterial survival, and conjugative transfer of pCAR1. In artificial soils, more than 90% of the carbazole was degraded in samples with high water content, suggesting that the water content is a key factor in carbazole degradation in artificial soils. In three of the artificial environmental water samples, more than 95% of the carbazole was degraded. Transconjugants were detected in some artificial water samples, but not in the artificial soil samples, suggesting that pCAR1 is preferably transferred in aqueous environments. Composition analysis of the artificial water samples and examination of conjugative transfer indicated that the presence of the divalent cations Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) promoted the plasmid transfer. The presence of carbazole also increases in incidence of transconjugants, probably by enhancing their growth. In contrast, humic acids in the liquid layer of artificial soil samples appeared to prevent conjugative transfer.