We have isolated a 5.7-kbp dispersed moderately repeated DNA sequence (TOC1) from the mutant OEE1 gene of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strain FUD44. The copy number (2 to over 30) and genomic locations of TOC1 elements vary widely in different C. reinhardtii strains. Our standard laboratory photosynthetic strain exhibits a high degree of TOC1 instability during short periods of mitotic growth. TOC1 appears to be a retrotransposon: it contains LTRs and an oligonucleotide stretch that corresponds to a conserved pentapeptide of reverse transcriptase. TOC1 is an unusual retrotransposon: it is not flanked by a target site duplication in the OEE1 gene, the left end of TOC1 only contains a fraction of the LTR the remainder of which is present at its right end and TOC1 does not start with a 5' TG and end with a 3' CA. In most cases, TOC1 excision leaves behind a complete solo LTR sequence (577 bp) and in one case a deleted solo LTR sequence (191 bp). Solo LTR sequences form a separate family of repeated sequences in most of the strains tested.