Three families of tRNA-derived repeated retroposons in the genomes of salmonid species have been isolated and characterized. These three families differ in sequence, but all are derived from a tRNA(Lys) or from a tRNA species structurally related to tRNA(Lys). The salmon Sma I family is present in the genomes of two species of the genus Oncorhynchus but not in other species, including five other species of the same genus. The charr Fok I family is present only in four species and subspecies of the genus Salvelinus. The third family, the salmonid Hpa I family, appears to be present in all salmonid species but is not present in species that are not members of the Salmonidae. Thus, the genome of proto-Salmonidae was originally shaped by amplification and dispersion of the salmonid Hpa I family and then reshaped by amplification of the Sma I and Fok I families in the more recently evolved species of salmon and charr, respectively. We speculate that amplification and dispersion of retroposons may have played a role in salmonid speciation.