There are two categories of strains in Drosophila melanogaster with respect to the I-R system of hybrid dysgenesis. The inducer strains contain particular transposable elements named I factors. They are not present in the strains of the other category called reactive (R) strains. Defective I elements are present in the pericentromeric regions of both categories of strains. This last subfamily of I sequences has not yet been described in detail and little is known about its origin. In this paper, we report that the defective I elements display an average of 94% of sequence identity with each other and with the transposable I factor. The results suggest that they cannot be the progenitors of the present day I factors, but that each of these two subfamilies started to evolve independently several million years ago. Furthermore, the sequence comparison of these I elements with an active I factor from Drosophila teissieri provides useful information about when the deleted I elements became immobilized.