The properties and origin of multiple resistant strains of Enterobacteriaceae found in the intestine and nasopharynx of infants admitted to the hospital for premature infants were studied. The strains of E. coli of different serovars isolated at various periods contained similar conjugative R plasmids with a molecular weight of 80 Md belonging to the O incompatibility group controlling resistance to kanamycin and physically independent small plasmids controlling resistance to ampicillin (7 Md) and streptomycin-sulfanilamides (4 Md). Multiple drug resistance in the strains of K. pneumoniae was controlled by single large (100-120 Md) plasmid cointegrates with 6-8 resistance markers. Such cointegrates consisted of several potentially independent plasmids, sometimes dividing on transformation of plasmid DNA of the recipient strains of E. coli K12. The small plasmids controlling resistance to ampicillin and streptomycin-sulfanilamides similar to the respective plasmids of E. coli were the constant components of the plasmids cointegrates. The multiple drug resistance in the above strains was combined with high capacity for colonization in premature infants. The medical staff and mothers were the sources of bacterial strains with single plasmids controlling definite types of resistance. It is suggested that the multiple resistant strains of Enterobacteriaceae are formed in hospital as a result of accumulation of the plasmids or plasmid markers and selection. One of the conditions for successive acquisition of new plasmid markers by definite bacterial strains was their high capacity for colonization in patients, which provided constant contacts and genetic exchange of such strains with a wide range of immigrant strains during colonization in the newly admitted patients.