To ensure safety, regulatory agencies recommend elimination of antibiotic resistance markers from therapeutic and vaccine plasmid DNA vectors. Here, we describe the development and application of a novel antibiotic-free selection system. Vectors incorporate and express a 150 bp RNA-OUT antisense RNA. RNA-OUT represses expression of a chromosomally integrated constitutively expressed counter-selectable marker (sacB), allowing plasmid selection on sucrose. Sucrose selectable DNA vaccine vectors combine antibiotic-free selection with highly productive fermentation manufacturing (>1g/L plasmid DNA yields), while improving in vivo expression of encoded proteins and increasing immune responses to target antigens. These vectors are safer, more potent, alternatives for DNA therapy or vaccination.