Amongst prokaryotic genomes, those of nitrogen-fixing members of the Rhizobiaceae family are relatively large (6-9 Mb), often include mega-plasmids of 1.5-2 Mb, and contain numerous families of repeated DNA sequences. Although most essential nodulation and nitrogen fixation genes are well characterized, these represent only a small fraction of the DNA content. Little is known about the detailed structure of rhizobial genomes. With the development of sequencing techniques and new bio-informatic tools such studies become possible, however. Using the 2275 shotgun sequences of ANU265 (a derivative of NGR234 cured of pNGR234a), we have identified numerous families of repeats. Amongst these, the 58-bp-long NGRREP-4 represents the third most abundant DNA sequence after the RIME1 and RIME2 repeats, all of which are also found in Sinorhizobium meliloti. Surprisingly, studies on the distribution of these elements showed that in proportion to its size, the chromosome of NGR234 carries many more RIME modules than pNGR234a or pNGR234b. Together with the presence in NGR234 and S. meliloti 1021 of an insertion sequence (IS) element more conserved than essential nodulation and nitrogen fixation genes, these results give new insights into the origin and evolution of rhizobial genomes.