In situ hybridization on polytene chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster was used to compare the insertion patterns of copia and mdg1 transposable elements on chromosome 2 in male gametes sampled by two different methods: (i) by crossing the males tested with females from a highly inbred line with known copia and mdg1 insertion profiles; (ii) by crossing the same males with females from a marked strain, and analysing the resulting homozygous chromosomes. Crossing of the males with the inbred line led to homogeneous insertion profiles for both the copia and mdg1 elements in larvae, thus giving an accurate estimation of the patterns in the two gamete classes of each male. Crossing with the marked strain led, however, to heterogeneity in insertion patterns of the copia transposable element, while no significant polymorphism was observed for mdg1. The use of balancer chromosomes is thus not an adequate way of inferring transposable element insertion patterns of Drosophila males, at least for the copia element. This technique could, however, be powerful for investigating the control of movements of this element.