A simple method is described which permits both the separation and concentration of circular recombinant plasmids from smaller plasmid vectors that are an undesirable by-product of a ligation reaction. SeaPlaque agarose plugs are used to entrap open-circular forms of recombinant plasmids during electrophoresis. In the example described over 98% of supercoiled, open-circular and linear forms of the 2.9-kb Bluescript plasmid vector, as well as the equivalent dimer forms, pass through the 1.4% SeaPlaque plug. Circular recombinant plasmids greater in length than the vector dimer are entrapped within the plug. By increasing the concentration of SeaPlaque, recombinants smaller than the vector dimer are retained in the trap, but with a concomitant increase in contamination by open-circular vector dimers. For most library constructions the high ratio of insert to vector used during the ligation reaction reduces the formation of vector dimers and makes this level of contamination inconsequential. The recombinant plasmids can be extracted readily from the SeaPlaque plug by excising it, melting the agarose and extracting with phenol. Alternatively, the excised plug can be melted and the recombinant plasmids used to transform bacteria, or mammalian cells, directly in the agarose. The procedure should be valuable for cloning large inserts for 'jumping' and 'linking' libraries, for large inserts in general where recircularisation is a low-frequency event, e.g., minichromosomes, for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis applications, and for hosts and vectors where genetic selection of the recombinant is not possible.