In a recent report mouse B1 genomic repeats were divided into six families representing different waves of fixation of B1 variants, consistent with the retroposition model of human Alu elements. These data are used to examine the distribution of nucleotide substitutions in individual genomic repeats with respect to family consensus sequences and to compare the minimal energy structures of the corresponding B1 RNAs. By an enzymatic approach the predicted structure of B1 RNAs is experimentally confirmed using as a model sequence an RNA of a young B1 family member transcribed in vitro by T7 RNA polymerase. B1 RNA preserves folding domains of the Alu fragment of 7SL RNA, its progenitor molecule. Our results reveal similarities among 7SL-like retroposons, human Alu, and rodent B1 repeats, and relate the evolutionary conservation of B1 family consensus sequences to selection at the RNA level.