We have used the degenerated oligonucleotide primers-PCR (DOP-PCR) technique to determine the presence of Ty1/copia-related retrotransposons in the wild species of tomato, Lycopersicon chilense. Using degenerated oligonucleotides corresponding to highly conserved domains in the Ty1/copia retrotransposons, fragments of roughly 300 bp were obtained by PCR amplification. These were cloned in a plasmid vector and the nucleotide sequence determined for 20 clones, 19 of which showed sequence homology to retrotransposon-related sequences. Comparison of the deduced amino-acid sequence of these clones with those reported for other retrotransposons has allowed their classification into four distinct families: TLC1-TLC4. The level of amino-acid sequence similarity between these elements extends from 66.7% (between TLC1 and TLC2) to 42.6% (between TLC2 and TLC3). Altogether, the four families comprise about 0.17% of the L. chilense genome. RT-PCR analysis shows that the four TLC families are transcriptionally active, suggesting a mechanism for the generation of the observed diversity between the L. chilense retrotransposons.