AbiV is a chromosomally encoded phage resistance mechanism that is silent in the wild-type phage-sensitive strain Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363. Spontaneous phage-resistant mutants of L. lactis MG1363 were analyzed by reverse transcriptase PCR and shown to express AbiV. This expression was related to a reorganization in the upstream region of abiV. Transfer of abiV between two lactococcal strains, most likely by conjugation, was also demonstrated. To our knowledge, this is the first report of natural transfer of a chromosomally encoded phage resistance mechanism.