The ColIb-P9 (IncI1)-encoded conjugation system supports transfer of the plasmid T-strand plus hundreds of molecules of the Sog polypeptides determined by the plasmid primase gene. Here, we report that Sog primase is abundantly donated to the recipient cell from cells carrying a non-transferable ColIb plasmid deleted of the nic site essential for DNA export. Such DNA-independent secretion of Sog primase is typical of authentic conjugation, both in being blocked when the recipient cell specifies the entry exclusion function of ColIb and in requiring the thin I1 pilus encoded by the ColIb pil system under the mating conditions used. It is proposed that Sog polypeptides form a complex with the ColIb T-strand during conjugation and aid DNA transport through processive secretion of the proteins into the recipient cell. Functional and genetic relationships between the ColIb conjugation system and other type IV secretion pathways are discussed.