Transposable elements contribute significantly to plant genome evolution in myriad ways, ranging from local insertional mutations to global effects exerted on genome size through accumulation. Differential accumulation and deletion of transposable elements may profoundly affect genome size, even among members of the same genus. One example is that of Gossypium (cotton), where much of the 3-fold genome size variation is due to differential accumulation of one gypsy-like LTR retrotransposon, Gorge3. Copia and non-LTR LINE retrotransposons are also major components of the Gossypium genome, but unlike Gorge3, their extant copy numbers do not correlate with genome size. In the present study, we describe the nature and timing of transposition for copia and LINE retrotransposons in Gossypium. Our findings indicate that copia retrotransposons have been active in each lineage since divergence from a common ancestor, and that they have proliferated in a punctuated manner. However, the evolutionary history of LINEs contrasts markedly with that of the copia retrotransposons. Although LINEs have also been active in each lineage, they have accumulated in a stochastically regular manner, and phylogenetic analysis suggests that extant LINE populations in Gossypium are dominated by ancient insertions. Interestingly, the magnitude of transpositional bursts in each lineage corresponds directly with extant estimated copy number.