We report the discovery of a group of highly conserved DNA sequences located, in those cases studied, within intergenic regions of the chromosome of the Gram positive Streptococcus pneumoniae. The S. pneumoniae genome contains about 25 of these elements called BOX. From 5' to 3', BOX elements are composed of three subunits (boxA, boxB, and boxC) which are 59, 45 and 50 nucleotides long, respectively. BOX elements containing one, two and four copies of boxB have been observed; boxB alone was also detected in one instance. These elements are unrelated to the two most thoroughly documented families of repetitive DNA sequences present in the genomes of enterobacteria. BOX sequences have the potential to form stable stem-loop structures and one of these, at least, is transcribed. Most of these elements are located in the immediate vicinity of genes whose product has been implicated at some stage in the process of genetic transformation or in virulence of S. pneumoniae. This location raises the intriguing possibility that BOX sequences are regulatory elements shared by several coordinately controlled genes, including competence-specific and virulence-related genes.