The 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) was shown to be in two fragments in pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica. The cleavage site in the structural gene of the 23S rRNA was occupied by an intervening sequence (IVS) of about 100 nucleotides, analogous to IVSs found in salmonellae (Burgin et al., 1990). Nucleotide sequences of IVSs of several Y. enterocolitica strains revealed that the IVSs of the highly virulent Y. enterocolitica serotypes strains, and the IVS of Salmonella typhimurium were about 90% similar. On the other hand, the IVSs of the highly and the poorly virulent Y. enterocolitica serotypes were only about 60% similar. These results give the impression that at some point during the IVS evolution, the highly virulent Y. enterocolitica and S. typhimurium both received their IVSs at about the same time from the same source, and that the poorly virulent serotypes received their IVSs earlier. We also found that strain LB5010, derived by extended mutagenization of S. typhimurium LT2, had lost the IVSs originally present in LT2, and that this loss had created a new 'hairpin loop' which substituted for the original 'hairpin loop'.