Abstract We have identified a novel RNA species of Drosophila melanogaster gypsy retrotransposon that is ca. 2 kb in length and corresponds to the third open reading frame (ORF3) of the gypsy element. This RNA is generated by splicing of the primary gypsy transcript, as is the case for retroviral env gene expression. Therefore, the striking resemblance between gypsy and retroviruses has now been extended by this study to the expression strategies of these retroelements. The primary structure of spliced RNA was determined, and its analysis shows that both gypsy subfamilies (6K and 7K) apparently are able to encode functionally active ORF3 translation products.