The Mutator transposable element system of maize is the most active transposable element system characterized in higher plants. While Mutator has been used to generate and tag thousands of new maize mutants, the mechanism and regulation of its transposition are poorly understood. The Mutator autonomous element, MuDR, encodes two proteins: MURA and MURB. We have detected an amino acid sequence motif shared by MURA and the putative transposases of a group of bacterial insertion sequences. Based on this similarity we believe that MURA is the transposase of the Mutator system. In addition we have detected two rice cDNAs in genbank with extensive similarity to MURA. This sequence similarity suggests that a Mutator-like element is present in rice. We believe that Mutator, a group of bacterial insertion sequences, and an uncharacterized rice transposon represent members of a family of transposable elements.