Sequencing of the large (> 50 kb), low-copy-number (< 5 per cell) plasmids that mediate horizontal gene transfer has been hindered by the difficulty and expense of isolating DNA from individual plasmids of this class. We report here that a kit method previously devised for purification of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) can be adapted for effective preparation of individual plasmids up to 220 kb from wild gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Individual plasmid DNA recovered from less than 10 ml of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and Corynebacterium cultures was of sufficient quantity and quality for construction of high-coverage libraries, as shown by sequencing five native plasmids ranging in size from 30 kb to 94 kb. We also report recommendations for vector screening to optimize plasmid sequence assembly, preliminary annotation of novel plasmid genomes, and insights on mobile genetic element biology derived from these sequences. Adaptation of this BAC method for large plasmid isolation removes one major technical hurdle to expanding our knowledge of the natural plasmid gene pool.