A new approach to determining the sequence of cloned DNA is described. Unique regions near each end of the transposable element gamma-delta provide a pair of "portable" primer-specific sites for bidirectional sequencing by the dideoxy chain termination method. A set of gamma-delta insertions positioned about 200 bp apart over the entire cloned DNA allowed us to determine the sequence of both strands in a single parental plasmid without subcloning. The avtA (alanine-valine transaminase) gene of E. coli K-12 was sequenced by this approach. Surprisingly, gamma-delta insertions downstream of the coding region were found to significantly reduce avtA expression. We suggest that these nondisruptive insertions probably change the DNA topology and thereby alter gene expression.