247 independent events involving insertion of the TN3 transposable element into a 4 kb constructed plasmid (pTU4) of partially known DNA sequence were studied by restriction endonuclease mapping, and 65 of these insertion sites were examined further by DNA sequence analysis. Our results show that the previously proposed regional specificity for Tn3 insertion is associated with a strong preference for AT-rich segments as insertion sites. Moreover, multiple insertions of the Tn3 occurred at certain AT-rich nucleotide positions, and 23 of 26 independent insertion events at a single nucleotide position were found to be in the same orientation. A region of the recipient plasmid showing major homology with the terminal 18 bp of Tn3 was identified in the vicinity of an 11 nucleotide segment that included three insertional hot spots and 36 independent insertions. Our results indicate that the site and orientation of insertion of Tn3 are at least partly determined by the primary nucleotide sequence of the recipient genome, and suggest that insertional hot spots may result from the combined effects of AT richness plus homology of the recipient genome with the terminal sequences of Tn3.