Although transposons that move via DNA intermediates are common in bacteria, invertebrates, and plants, none have been clearly documented in vertebrates and certain other classes of organisms. One such family of transposons includes invertebrate elements related to Caenorhabditis elegans Tc1. Blocks of aligned protein segments derived from this family were used to search a nucleotide sequence databank. Among the relatives detected were known bacterial insertion elements, revealing the ancient origin of the family. Furthermore, a Tc1-like homolog was detected in a catfish, raising the possibility that this valuable tool of C. elegans genetics can be used with vertebrate genomes. This study illustrates the use of multiple protein blocks for detection and evaluation of distant relationships.