A recombinant plasmid containing a MAT alpha mating type locus of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been isolated by its ability to complement a sterile mat alpha mutation. The plasmid hybridizes to restriction fragments containing both active mating type loci (MATa and MAT alpha) and both silent mating type loci (HMRa and HML alpha). All loci therefore have common sequences. Recombinant lambda clones of the locihave been isolated by plaque hybridization and their structures have been compared by a heteroduplex analysis. At its center, each locus contains one of two apparently nonhomologous sequences. Loci concerned with the alpha phenotype (MAT alpha and HML alpha) contain and 850 bp alpha-specific sequence, whereas loci concerned with the a phenotype (MATa and HMRa) contain a 700 bp a-specific sequence. The a- or alpha-specific sequences are surrounded by DNA sequences that are common to all loci. These homologous sequences extend for 230 bp on the left and 700 bp on the right. They appear to be unrelated to each other. Surprisingly, HML alpha and HMRa differ in their extent of homology to MATa and MAT alpha outside the above regions. HMRa lacks an extensive (700 bp) DNA sequence to the right of the large right-hand homologous region, and possibly also a small (90 bp) sequence to the left of the small left-hand homologous region, both of which are present at HML alpha, MATa and MAT alpha. Hybridization studies have shown that the 700 bp sequence is present at HMLa but absent at HMR alpha alleles. It is therefore characteristic of HML, irrespective of whether it contains a- or alpha-specific sequences. The results imply that mating type interconversion is effected by transposition of DNA sequences from HML or HMR to MAT, as predicted by the controlling element model of Oshima and Takano (1971) and the Cassette model of Hicks, Strathern and Herskowitz (1977).