The Ac-specific ORFa protein, overexpressed in a baculovirus system, specifically binds to several subterminal fragments of Ac. The 11 bp long inverted repeats of the transposable element are not bound by the ORFa protein. Major ORFa protein-binding sites were delineated on 60 and 70 bp long sequence segments that lie 100 bp inside of the 5' Ac terminus and 40 bp inside of the 3' terminus respectively. Within all strongly bound fragments, and particularly in these 60 or 70 bp long segments, the hexamer motif AAACGG is repeated several times in direct or inverted orientation. The ORFa protein binds to synthetic concatemers of this motif, whereas the mutant motif AAAGGG is not complexed. Methylation of the cytosine residues in the AAACGG motif and/or its complementary strand has pronounced effects: whereas one of the two hemimethylated sequences has a higher affinity to the ORFa protein than both unmethylated and holomethylated DNAs, the other hemimethylated DNA is virtually not complexed at all. The native ORFa protein binding sites are more complex than the AAACGG sequence: certain Ac and Ds1 fragments devoid of AAACGG motifs (but containing several similar sequences) are weakly bound by the ORFa protein.