Genetic and molecular evidence presented in this paper demonstrate that the Mos factor for inherited mosaicism is a special copy of the transposable element mariner. Mosaicism observed in the presence of the Mos (Mosaic) factor results from a high frequency of excision of the mariner element from an insertion site near the white-eye gene in Drosophila mauritiana. The Mos factor promotes the excision of mariner elements from genomic insertion sites other than the site in wpch, and it also promotes its own loss from the genome. Putative transpositions of Mos to new genomic sites have also been observed. A copy of mariner present at a particular site in a Mos strain has been shown to be missing in derived strains in which the Mos factor has been lost, and in strains with putative transpositions. We propose that this copy of mariner is identical to the Mos factor.