The distribution of 13 transposable element families along 15 X chromosomes from an African natural population of Drosophila simulans was determined by in situ hybridization to polytene chromosomes. The transposable elements cloned from Drosophila melanogaster all hybridized with Drosophila simulans chromosomes. The number of copies per family was 3.5 times lower in the latter species and correlated with the copy number per family in Drosophila melanogaster. With the exception of 297, the copy number per chromosome followed a Poisson distribution. Element frequencies per chromosome band were generally low. However, several sites of the distal region and the base of the X chromosome had high frequencies of occupation. Elements had higher abundance at the base of the chromosome compared to distal regions. Overall, the distribution of transposable elements in Drosophila simulans is similar to that found in Drosophila melanogaster. These data provide evidence for the operation of a force (or forces) opposing transpositional increase in copy number, and that this force is weaker at the bases of chromosomes, consistent with the idea that recombination between elements at non-homologous sites contains TE copy number. The reduction in copy number of all TE families in Drosophila simulans compared to Drosophila melanogaster can be explained by stronger selection against transposable element multiplication and/or lower rates of transposition in Drosophila simulans.