The P1 plasmid replication initiator protein, RepA, binds to its own promoter and represses transcription efficiently. There are only about 20 RepA dimers present per repA gene. A possible reason for this highly restrained expression became evident when repA expression was increased by using foreign promoters: with fivefold overexpression, the replication rate was diminished, and with 40-fold overexpression, replication was not detectable. The inhibition was P1 specific: growth of Escherichia coli and replication of pSC101, R6K, and mini-F plasmids were not affected. The activity is apparently not from RepA itself. Excess purified RepA did not inhibit replication in vitro. Mutations of the repA translation initiation codon reduced synthesis of the initiator but not the inhibitory activity. Deletion from either the N- or C-terminal ends of repA (28 and 69 codons, respectively, out of the 286-codon open reading frame) affected the initiator but not the inhibitory activity. Further deletions affected both the activities. These results demonstrate that the integrity of the initiator is not required for inhibition, but involvement of an unstable initiator fragment or of initiator mRNA cannot be ruled out.