Unmarked gene deletion of the Streptococcus mutans gtfB-gtfC locus was achieved using a thermosensitive plasmid. DNA fragments flanking the locus were amplified by polymerase chain reaction and jointly ligated into pG+host5, which was transformed into S. mutans at 37 degrees C to facilitate integration. A transformant was then grown at 28 degrees C for 60 generations without antibiotics to facilitate excision. Antibiotic sensitive clones appeared at a frequency of about 99% and were analyzed for deletions of gtfB, gtfC and a part of mbrA by the lack of insoluble glucan synthesis, sensitivity to bacitracin, and polymerase chain reaction. Targeted gene deletions occurred at a frequency of 2.5%.