The behavior of the autonomous maize transposable element En/Spm of maize was studied in Arabidopsis. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants carrying En-1 elements were propagated for 12 generations using a single seed descent procedure. The distribution and activity of the En-1 element was monitored using Southern DNA hybridisations in generations 1, 6 and 12. In the first generation the highest number of En-1 insertions per line was 7, which increased to 20 in generation 12. The average number of En-1 insertions increased only slightly in the population, due to a gradual accumulation of segregants that lost the transposable element. During the development of the En-1 mutagenised population the element remained active even in the high-copy lines. In situ hybridisation demonstrated that multiple En-1 insertions were distributed over all Arabidopsis chromosomes. From the initial En-1 mutagenised populations many unstable gene mutations were recovered, indicating that En-1 can be used as a efficient tool for gene tagging in Arabidopsis.