Length variations in simple sequence tandem repeats (microsatellite DNA polymorphisms) are finding increasing usage in mammalian genetics. Although every variety of short tandem repeat that has been tested has been shown to exhibit length polymorphisms, little information on the relative abundance of the different repeat motifs has been collected. In this report, summaries of GenBank searches for all possible human and rat microsatellites ranging from mononucleotide to tetranucleotide repeats are presented. In humans, the five most abundant microsatellites with total lengths for the runs of repeats of greater than or equal to 20 nucleotides contained repeat sequences of A, AC, AAAN, AAN, and AG, in order of decreasing abundance, where N is C, G, or T. These five groups comprised about 76% of all microsatellites. Many other human simple sequence repeats were found at low frequency. In the 745 kb of human genomic DNA surveyed, one microsatellite of greater than or equal to 20 nucleotides in length was found, on average, every 6 kb. Only 12% of the human microsatellites had total lengths greater than or equal to 40 nucleotides. Roughly 80% of the A, AAN, and AAAN microsatellites and 50% of the AT microsatellites, but few of the other human microsatellites, were found to be associated with interspersed, repetitive Alu elements. In rats, the five most abundant microsatellites contained AC, AG, A, AAAN, and AAGG sequences, respectively. Rat microsatellites were generally longer than human microsatellites, with 43% of the rat sequences greater than or equal to 40 nucleotides.