A computer analysis of the amino acid sequences from the putative gene products of retroviral pol genes has revealed a 150-residue segment that is homologous with the ribonuclease H of Escherichia coli. The segment occurs at the carboxyl terminus of the region assigned to the 90-kDa reverse transcriptase polypeptide. In contrast, a section nearer the amino terminus of this sequence can be aligned with nonretroviral polymerases. The order of activities in the pol gene is thus: polymerase-ribonuclease-endonuclease. On another note, all retroviral endonuclease sequences contain a consensus zinc-binding "finger." This should not be confused with the well-known zinc requirement of reverse transcriptases.