Three independent integrations of the E. coli insertion sequence, IS1, into the gal operon have been analyzed. DNA sequences of portions of the wild-type galT gene which act as the target sites for these insertions, as well as the corresponding gal/IS1 junctions, are reported. Two features are particularly noteworthy. First, similar sequences appearing in inverted orientation consitute the ends of IS1: 18 of the terminal 23 base pairs at each end are identical. Second, in all three insertions, a 9 base pair segment found once in the wild-type sequence at the site of insertion is duplicated and appears in the same orientation at each end of the inserted element. The sequence of this 9 base pair repeat is different for each insertion analyzed. No homology between the inverted repeat sequences at the ends of IS1 and the sequences of the target sites is observed. Models for the mechanism of IS1 insertion are proposed.