IS1201, a 1387-bp insertion sequence isolated from Lactobacillus helveticus, was identified by its nucleotide (nt) sequence. It carries a single open reading frame encoding a 369-amino-acid protein, which shares homology with transposases found in a class of related IS, including ISRm3 from Rhizobium meliloti, IS256 from Staphylococcus aureus, IS6120 from Mycobacterium smegmatis, IS1081 from M. bovis, IST2 from Thiobacillus ferroxidans and IS406 from Pseudomonas cepacia. IS1201 has terminal inverted repeats of 24 bp in length and a target site duplication of 8 bp. Its copy number ranges from 3 to about 16 per L. helveticus genome. No homology was found between the nt sequence of IS1201 and those of the other bacterial IS from the same class. These results, together with previous observations [de los Reyes-Gavilán et al., Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 58 (1992) 3429-3432], confirm that IS1201 can be used as a specific DNA probe for the identification of L. helveticus strains.