Complementary strands of adeno-associated virus DNA labeled with 32P at the 5' ends were separated and then self-annealed to form single-stranded circles stabilized by hydrogen bonds between the complementary sequences in the inverted terminal repetitions. We have previously shown that there are two distinct sequences in the terminal repetition which represent an inversion of the first 125 nucleotides (E. Lusby et al., J. Virol. 34:402-409, 1980; I. S. Spear et al., Virology 24:627-634, 1977). Base pairing between terminal sequences of the same orientation leads to a normal double helical structure. If sequences of the opposite orientation pair, an aberrant secondary structure is formed. HpaII digestion of the self-annealed, single-stranded circles led to labeled terminal fragments that corresponded both to those generated from termini of a normal double helical structure and those generated from an aberrant terminal secondary structure. Thus, the orientation of the terminal repetition at one end of the genome is not influenced by the orientation at the other end.