Genomic sequencing projects are beginning to reveal regions of extensive DNA homology between bacterial genera. Public fears of the spread of genetically modified organisms into the food chain and the increasing prevalence of multi-drug resistant disease in humans highlight the implications of horizontal gene transfer. The striking DNA sequence similarity between the two uniquely identified tetracycline resistant (TcR) Campylobacter plasmids, pCC31 and pTet, suggests their conserved acquisition and maintenance within Campylobacter [Batchelor, R.A., Pearson, B.M., Friis, L.M., Guerry, P., Wells, J.M. 2004. Nucleotide sequences and comparison of two large conjugative plasmids from different Campylobacter species. Microbiology 150, 3507-3517]. It is thus likely that these and other conjugative plasmids are highly prevalent and broadly distributed across several continents. Microarray technology is now enabling fast and extensive genomic comparisons to be made and allows us to investigate intra- and inter-genetic conservation and variability. This study details the development of a microarray specific for genes from Campylobacter plasmids pCC31, pTet and pVir and its application to the analysis of Campylobacter plasmid gene presence and preservation throughout environmental and clinical isolates. Application of the iterative algorithm GENCOM (freely available at http://www.ifr.ac.uk/safety/gencom) is used as a rapid and effective way of comparing the content and conservation of plasmids in bacteria and provides details of the Campylobacter flexible gene pool and its contribution to genomic plasticity.