We describe three related DNA alterations associated with transposon Tn10: precise excision of Tn10, nearly precise excision of Tn10 and precise excision of the nearly precise excision remnant. DNA sequence analysis shows that each of these alterations results in excision of all or part of the Tn10 element, and each involves specific repeat sequences at or near the ends of the element. Furthermore, all three events are structurally analogous: in each case, excision occurs between two short direct-repeat sequences, with resulting deletion of all intervening material plus one copy of the direct repeat; and in all three cases, the direct repeats involved occur at either end of an inverted repeat. Analysis of mutant Tn10 elements and characterization of bacterial host mutations suggest that all three types of excision events occur by pathways that are fundamentally distinct from the pathway(s) for Tn10-promoted transposition and other DNA rearrangements (deletions and inversions) actively promoted by the element. In addition, precise excision and nearly precise excision appear to occur by very closely related or identical pathways; and several lines of evidence suggest that the 1400 bp inverted repeats at the ends of Tn10 may play a structural role in both of these events. The third excision event appears to occur by yet another pathway.