Streptomyces avermitilis contains a unique restriction system that restricts plasmid DNA containing N6-methyladenine or 5-methylcytosine. Shuttle vectors isolated from Escherichia coli RR1 or plasmids isolated from modification-proficient Streptomyces spp. cannot be directly introduced into S. avermitilis. This restriction barrier can be overcome by first transferring plasmids into Streptomyces lividans or a modification-deficient E. coli strain and then into S. avermitilis. The transformation frequency was reduced greater than 1,000-fold when plasmid DNA was modified by dam or TaqI methylases to contain N6-methyladenine or by AluI, HhaI, HphI methylases to contain 5-methylcytosine. Methyl-specific restriction appears to be common in Streptomyces spp., since either N6-methyladenine-specific or 5-methylcytosine-specific restriction was observed in seven of nine strains tested.