The molecular nature of mutations arising in dysgenic hybrids between P and M Drosophila melanogaster strains has been investigated. Seven independent mutations at the white locus were examined, and these fell into two classes on the basis of their genetic and structural properties. The five mutations comprising the first class were caused by DNA insertions of 0.5, 0.5, 0.6, 1.2 and 1.4 kb, respectively. The DNA insertions in four of these mutations were examined in detail. Although heterogeneous in size and pattern of restriction enzyme sites, they were homologous in sequence. We refer to members of this sequence family as P elements. Mutations caused by P elements appeared to be stable in the P cytotype, but had reversion rates greater than 10(-3) in the M cytotype. Phenotypic reversion to wild-type was accompanied by excision of the P element. The two mutations comprising the second class were caused by insertion of the 5.0 kb copia element and appeared to be stable in both P and M cytotypes.