The transposable tetracycline resistance element, Tn10, can serve as a region of homology to promote rec-dependent deletion, duplication and directed transposition of bacterial genes. Tn10 insertions in regions of the chromosome near the histidine operon (his) have been isolated and characterized in Salmonella typhimurium. When strains are constructed containing two Tn10 insertions flanking the his operon in the same orientation (Tn10-his-Tn10), recombination can occur between Tn10 sequences resulting in the deletion of the intervening his region. The sites of the Tn10 insertions determine the endpoints of the deletion. In crosses designed to construct strains carrying Tn10-his-Tn10, another class of unstable recombinants arises in which the his region exists in tandem duplication, with a Tn10 insertion joining the duplicated copies (his-Tn10-his). The sites of the parental Tn10 insertions mark the endpoints of the duplication. When a strain carrying Tn10-his-Tn10 is used as a donor of his+ in conjugation or P22-mediated transduction, recombinants can arise in which the his region has been transposed to the site of any Tn10 insertion, far from the normal location of his in the recipient chromosome. In this manner, the his operon has been moved to the site of a pyrB::Tn10 insertion and has been placed on F' plasmids. At these new locations, the his+ character shows the rec-dependent deletion of his+ expected for a Tn10-his-Tn10 duplication. These methods should be generally useful for the manipulation of bacterial genes.