Transposition depends on DNA sequences located at or near the termini of the transposon. In the maize transposable element Ds, these sequences were studied by site-directed mutagenesis followed by a transient excision assay in Petunia protoplasts. The transposase-binding AAACGG motifs found in large numbers in the element are important, but none of them is in itself indispensable, for excision. However, mutation of an isolated motif at the 3' end considerably reduced excisability. The inverted termini were confirmed to be indispensable. Point mutations in regions outside the inverted termini of Ds and not located in the transposase-binding motifs had, in some cases, a pronounced effect on excision frequency. The implications of these findings are discussed.