The C. elegans genome contains a 1.7 kb repeated DNA sequence (Tc1) that is present in different numbers in various strains. In strain Bristol and 10 other strains analyzed, there are 20 +/- 5 copies of Tc1, and these are located at a nearly constant set of sites in the DNA. In Bergerac, however, there are 200 +/- 50 interspersed copies of Tc1 that have arisen by insertion of Tc1 elements into new genomic sites. The interspersed copies of Tc1 have a conserved, nonpermuted structure. The structure of genomic Tc1 elements was analyzed by the cloning of a single Tc1 element from Bergerac and the comparison of its structure with homologous genomic sequences in Bristol and Bergerac. Tc1 elements at three sites analyzed in Bergerac undergo apparently precise excision from their points of insertion at high frequency.