Analysis of the DNA regions upstream of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase gene (pckA) in Rhizobium meliloti and Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 identified an open reading frame which was highly homologous to the Agrobacterium tumefaciens chromosomal virulence gene product ChvI. A second gene product, 500 bp downstream of the chvI-like gene in R. meliloti, was homologous to the A. tumefaciens ChvG protein. The homology between the R. meliloti and A. tumefaciens genes was confirmed, because the R. meliloti chvI and chvG genes complemented A. tumefaciens chvI and chvG mutants for growth on complex media. We were unable to construct chvI or chvG insertion mutants of R. meliloti, whereas mutants carrying insertions outside of these genes were readily obtained. A 108-bp repeat element characterized by two large palindromes was identified in the chvI and chvG intergenic regions of both Rhizobium species. This element was duplicated in Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234. Another structurally similar element with a size of 109 bp was present in R. meliloti but not in Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234. These elements were named rhizobium-specific intergenic mosaic elements (RIMEs), because their distribution seems to be limited to members of the family Rhizobiaceae. A homology search in GenBank detected six more copies of the first element (RIME1), all in Rhizobium species, and three extra copies of the second element (RIME2), only in R. meliloti. Southern blot analysis with a probe specific to RIME1 showed the presence of several copies of the element in the genome of R. meliloti, Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234, Rhizobium leguminosarum, and Agrobacterium rhizogenes, but none was present in A. tumefaciens and Bradyrhizobium japonicum.