Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus mycoides are very closely related bacteria, generally considered as subspecies of B. cereus sensu lato. Different transposable elements have been isolated from B. thuringiensis, including IS231, IS232 and IS240 and their variants. The distribution of these three insertion sequences (IS) within the B. cereus group has been investigated in 90 strains of B. thuringiensis (representing 61 serovars), in 30 reference strains of B. cereus and in 33 strains of B. mycoides. Since these IS elements are delimited by well-conserved and specific inverted repeats, the use of primers corresponding to these ends allowed their amplification by PCR. The results showed that IS231 is the most abundant element in the three taxa, whereas IS232 is apparently exclusively associated with B. thuringiensis. Hybridization and Dral RFLP analysis of the PCR products confirmed and extended knowledge of the heterogeneity previously observed among iso-IS231 elements. Moreover, a similar diversity was observed among iso-IS240 elements. This contrasted with the relative homogeneity displayed by iso-IS232 elements. No specific association appeared to exist between any particular iso-element and a specific strain or serotype.