The Ta1 elements are alow copy number, copia-like retrotransposable element family of Arabidopsis thaliana. Six Ta1 insertions comprise all of the Ta1 element copies found in three geographically diverse A. thaliana races.These six elements occupy three distinct target sites: Ta1-1 is located on chromosome 5 and is common to all three races (Col-0, Kas-1 and La-0). Ta1-2 is present in two races on chromosome 4 (Kas-1 and La-0), and Ta1-3, also located on chromosome 4, is present only in one race (La-0). The six Ta1 insertions share > 96% nucleotide identity, yet are likely to be incapable of further transposition due to deletions or nucleotide changes that alter either the coding capacity of the elements or conserved protein domains required for retrotransposition. Nucleotide sequence comparisons of these elements and the distribution of Tal1 among 12 additional A. thaliana geographical races suggest that Ta1-1 predated the global dispersal of A. thaliana. As the species spread throughout the world, two additional transposition events occurred which gave rise first to Ta1-2 and finally to Ta1-3.