Tn2501 is a cryptic class II transposon found as part of the lactose transposon Tn951. Insertional inactivation and nucleotide sequence analysis of Tn2501 allowed us (i) to localize the transposase (tnpA) and the resolvase (tnpR) genes as well as the resolution site (res) of Tn2501 and (ii) to compare Tn2501 with other well-known elements of the two subgroups of class II transposons (Tn3, gamma delta, Tn951, IS101; and Tn21, Tn501, Tn1721). The genetic organization of Tn2501 is similar to that of Tn3 with divergent transcription of the tnpA and tnpR genes away from the intervening res site. The tnpR gene of Tn2501 shows weak homology with that of Tn3 and even less with those of Tn21 and Tn501. However, the tnpA gene and the inverted repeat sequences of Tn2501 present more homology with those of Tn21 and Tn501 than with those of Tn3. Complementation studies showed that TnpA- mutants of Tn2501 can be complemented, at a low frequency, by the Tn21 transposase. None of the tested transposons complemented TnpR- mutants of Tn2501.