We have isolated a transposable element, designated PAT-1, from the free-living nematode Panagrellus redivivus. P. redivivus strain C15 was found to have a high spontaneous mutation frequency compared to the standard Caenorhabditis elegans laboratory strain N2. To characterize the genetic lesions occurring in spontaneous C15 mutants, we molecularly cloned the homolog of the C. elegans unc-22 gene from wild-type P. redivivus and two strains carrying spontaneous mutations in this gene. One of these mutations resulted from the insertion of a 4.8-kilobase segment of repetitive DNA. This repetitive element (PAT-1) varies in copy number (10-50 copies) and location in different P. redivivus strains and is absent from C. elegans. The element could be useful as a transformation vector for C. elegans. Our approach is a general one that could be used to isolate additional nematode transposons from other species.