Phytoplasmas are unculturable, insect-transmissible plant pathogens belonging to the class Mollicutes. To be transmitted, the phytoplasmas replicate in the insect body and are delivered to the insect's salivary glands, from where they are injected into the recipient plant. Because phytoplasmas cannot be cultured, any attempt to recover phytoplasmal DNA from infected plants or insects has resulted in preparations with a large background of host DNA. Thus, studies of the phytoplasmal genome have been greatly hampered, and aside from the rRNA genes, only a few genes have hitherto been isolated and characterized. We developed a unique method to obtain host-free phytoplasmal genomic DNA from the insect vector's saliva, and we demonstrated the feasibility of this method by isolating and characterizing 78 new putative phytoplasmal open reading frames and their deduced proteins. Based on the newly accumulated information on phytoplasmal genes, preliminary characteristics of the phytoplasmal genome are discussed.