The bacterial insertion sequence IS21 shares with many insertion sequences a two-step, reactive junction transposition pathway, for which a model is presented in this review: a reactive junction with abutted inverted repeats is first formed and subsequently integrated into the target DNA. The reactive junction occurs in IS21-IS21 tandems and IS21 minicircles. In addition, IS21 shows a unique specialization of transposition functions. By alternative translation initiation, the transposase gene codes for two products: the transposase, capable of promoting both steps of the reactive junction pathway, and the cointegrase, which only promotes the integration of reactive junctions but with higher efficiency. This review also includes a survey of the IS21 family and speculates on the possibility that other members present a similar transpositional specialization.