The conjugative lactococcal plasmid pNP40, identified in Lactococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis DRC3, possesses a potent complement of bacteriophage resistance systems, which has stimulated its application as a fitness-improving, food-grade genetic element for industrial starter cultures. The complete sequence of this plasmid allowed the mapping of previously known functions including replication, conjugation, bacteriocin resistance, heavy metal tolerance, and bacteriophage resistance. In addition, functions for cold shock adaptation and DNA damage repair were identified, further confirming pNP40's contribution to environmental stress protection. A plasmid cointegration event appears to have been part of the evolution of pNP40, resulting in a "stockpiling" of bacteriophage resistance systems.