An octameric palindrome (5'-GCGATCGC-3') is abundant in cyanobacterial sequences within databases (GenBank/EMBL) and was designated HIP1 (highly iterated palindrome). The frequency of occurrence of all 256 octameric palindromes has now been determined in sub-databases revealing large and unique over-representation of HIP1 in cyanobacterial entries. DNA sequences from other bacteria were searched for any over-represented octameric palindromes analogous to HIP1. Only two sequences were identified, in the genomes of a thermophile and halophilic archaebacteria, although these were less abundant than HIP1 in cyanobacteria and relate to codon usage. To test the proposed widespread distribution of HIP1 in DNA from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus PCC 6301, randomly selected genomic clones were partly sequenced. HIP1 constituted 2.5% of the novel sequences, equivalent to a site on average once every 320 nucleotides. An oligonucleotide including HIP1 was also tested in PCR. Multiple products were obtained using template DNA from cyanobacterial strains in which HIP1 is abundant in known sequences, and some strains generated characteristic HIP-PCR banding patterns. However, analysis of DNA from one strain (not previously represented in databases) by random sequencing, HIP-PCR and Pvul digestion, confirms that not all cyanobacterial genomes are rich in HIP1.