A new high-affinity system for iron transport, associated with the presence of ColV plasmids, has been detected in Escherichia coli and partially characterized. The presence of such "iron-transport plasmids" in E. coli cells that are defective in enterochelin-mediated transport of iron enabled them to grow in media to which 2,2'-dipyridyl had been added to reduce availability of iron. In addition, the presence of plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid in a mutant defective in enterochelin biosynthesis was associated with a marked increase in the rate of radioactive-iron uptake. Plasmid-determined uptake of iron was distinct from previously recognized systems for iron transport in E. coli K-12, and the colicin V molecule appeared not to be directly involved. Hydroxylamine-nitrogen could be detected in cell pellets of ColV+ cultures, and similar material was detected in supernatant fluids of late log- or stationary-phase cultures. The hydroxamate material was not detected in cell pellets or culture supernatants of strains from which plasmids had been eliminated, and a 95% decrease in hydroxamate synthesis was observed when cells were grown in minimal medium containing 2 microM iron.