In 1981 recurrent local bursts of mutability of the yellow gene were observed in a natural population of Drosophila melanogaster from Uman' (Ukraine). A series of y2-like mutations in the yellow gene were recovered during the period 1982 to 1991. Most of the mutants display the y2-phenotype, i.e. mutant yellow color of wings and body cuticle. Ninety-nine y2 mutants were shown to be generated by an inversion that occurred between two hobo elements, one located 129 bp from the start site of yellow transcription, and the other in the distal telomere region. The y2 phenotype was caused by the separation of the body and wing enhancers from the transcription unit. Many of the y2-like alleles were highly unstable and reverted to y+, which again, gave rise to y2-like mutants. We found that the y2-->y+-->y2 transitions were generated by repeated inversions between the two hobo elements mentioned. The y2 and y+ alleles lost their instability after deletion of the hobo element present at the tip of the X chromosome.