In silico genome analysis of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM coupled with gene expression studies have identified putative genes and regulatory networks that are potentially important to this organism's survival, persistence, and activities in the gastrointestinal tract. Correlation of key genotypes to phenotypes requires an efficient gene replacement system. In this study, use of the upp-encoded uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRTase) of L. acidophilus NCFM was explored as a counterselection marker to positively select for recombinants that have resolved from chromosomal integration of pORI-based plasmids. An isogenic mutant carrying a upp gene deletion was constructed and was resistant to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a toxic uracil analog that is also a substrate for UPRTase. A 3.0-kb pORI-based counterselectable integration vector bearing a upp expression cassette, pTRK935, was constructed and introduced into the Deltaupp host harboring the pTRK669 helper plasmid. Extrachromosomal replication of pTRK935 complemented the mutated chromosomal upp allele and restored sensitivity to 5-FU. This host background provides a platform for a two-step plasmid integration and excision strategy that can select for plasmid-free recombinants with either the wild-type or mutated allele of the targeted gene in the presence of 5-FU. The efficacy of the system was demonstrated by in-frame deletion of the slpX gene (LBA0512) encoding a novel 51-kDa secreted protein associated with the S-layer complex of L. acidophilus. The resulting DeltaslpX mutant exhibited lower growth rates, increased sensitivity to sodium dodecyl sulfate, and greater resistance to bile. Overall, this improved gene replacement system represents a valuable tool for investigating the mechanisms underlying the probiotic functionality of L. acidophilus.