Seventeen highly-inbred lines of Drosophila melanogaster extracted from an M' strain (in the P/M system of hybrid dysgenesis) were studied for their cytotype and the number and chromosomal location of complete and defective P elements. While most lines were of M cytotype, three presented a P cytotype (the condition that represses P-element activity) and one was intermediate between M and P. All lines were found to possess KP elements and only eight to bear full-sized P elements. Only the lines with full-sized P elements showed detectable changes in their P-insertion pattern over generations; their rates of gain and of loss of P-element sites were equal to 0.12 and 0.09 per genome, per generation, respectively. There was no correlation between these two rates within lines, suggesting independent transpositions and excisions in the inbred genomes. The results of both Southern blot analysis and in situ hybridization of probes made from left and right sides of the P element strongly suggested the presence of a putative complete P element in region 1A of the X chromosome in the three lines with a P cytotype; the absence of P copy in this 1A region in lines with an M cytotype, favours the hypothesis that the P element inserted in 1A could play a major role in the P-cytotype determination. Insertion of a defective 2 kb P element was also observed in region 93F in 9 of the 13 M lines. The regulation of the P-element copy number in our lines appeared not to be associated with the ratio of full-length and defective P elements.