Abstract A new class of lowly repetitive DNA sequences has been detected in the primate genome. The renaturation rate of this sequence class is practically indistinguishable from the renaturation rate of single-copy sequences. Consequently, this lowly repetitive sequence class has not been previously observed in DNA renaturation rate studies. This new sequence class is significant in that it might occupy a major fraction of the primate genome. Based on a study of the thermal stabilities of DNA heteroduplexes constructed from human DNA and either bonnet monkey or galago DNAs, we are able to compare the relative mutation rates of repetitive and single-copy sequences in the primate genome. We find that the mutation rate of short, interspersed repetitive sequences is either less than or approximately equal to the mutation rate of single-copy sequences. This implies that the base sequence of these repetitive sequences is important to their biological function. We also find that numerous mutations have accumulated in interspersed repeated sequences since the divergence of galago and human. These mutations are only recognizable because they occur at specific sites in the repeated sequence rather than at random sites in the sequence. Although interspersed repetitive sequences from human and galago can readily cross-hybridize, these site-specific mutations identify them as being two distinct classes. In contrast, far fewer site-specific mutations have occurred since the divergence of human and monkey.