In this communication, we describe the use of specialized transposons (Tn5 derivatives) to create deletions in the Escherichia coli K-12 chromosome. These transposons are essentially rearranged composite transposons that have been assembled to promote the use of the internal transposon ends, resulting in intramolecular transposition events. Two similar transposons were developed. The first deletion transposon was utilized to create a consecutive set of deletions in the E. coli chromosome. The deletion procedure has been repeated 20 serial times to reduce the genome an average of 200 kb (averaging 10 kb per deletion). The second deletion transposon contains a conditional origin of replication that allows deleted chromosomal DNA to be captured as a complementary plasmid. By plating cells on media that do not support plasmid replication, the deleted chromosomal material is lost and if it is essential, the cells do not survive. This methodology was used to analyze 15 chromosomal regions and more than 100 open reading frames (ORFs). This provides a robust technology for identifying essential and dispensable genes.