The nivea locus of Antirrhinum majus encodes the enzyme chalcone synthase required for the synthesis of red anthocyanin pigment. The stable allele niv-44 contains an insertion in the nivea gene (Tam2) which has all the structural features of a transposable element. We have shown that this insertion can excise from the nivea locus when niv-44 is combined with another allele (niv-99) in a heterozygote. Activation of Tam2 excision is caused by a factor tightly linked to the niv-99 allele and may be due to complementation between Tam2 and a related element, Tam1. Factors which repress the excision of Tam2 and Tam1 are also described. Repression is not inherited in a simple mendelian way. Many stable mutations may be due to the insertion of transposable elements. Our data suggest that their stability may be due to the absence in the genome of activating factors and to the presence of repressors.