The results of in vitro single-round transcription experiments indicated that RNA polymerase pauses during transcription of the leader region that precedes the repA1 gene of IncFII plasmid NR1. Transcription initiated at either of the two transcription promoter sites of the repA1 gene, which encodes the essential replication initiation protein of NR1, was observed to pause in this region. Pausing was specifically enhanced by addition of NusA protein, an Escherichia coli transcription accessory factor. Northern blot RNA-DNA hybridization analysis of repA1 mRNA synthesized in vivo revealed RNA species that had lengths equivalent to those of the in vitro-paused intermediates. The steady-state rate of in vivo repA1 mRNA transcription downstream from the pause sites (measured by quantitative hybridization of pulse-labeled RNA to DNA probes complementary to different segments of repA1 mRNA) was not appreciably affected, which suggests that the pause sites do not promote premature termination of transcription. The pause sites were located between the target sequence within the leader region of the mRNA that interacts with a 91-base countertranscript and the beginning of the repA1 coding sequence. Because the countertranscript is an inhibitor of translation of repA1 mRNA, transcriptional pausing in this region may be an important feature of the regulation of RepA1 synthesis, which is the mechanism by which plasmid NR1 controls its replication.