Ribosomal RNA genes of most insects are interrupted by R1/R2 retrotransposons. The occurrence of R2 retrotransposons in sciarid genomes was studied by PCR and Southern blot hybridization in three Rhynchosciara species and in Trichosia pubescens. Amplification products with the expected size for non-truncated R2 elements were only obtained in Rhynchosciara americana. The rDNA in this species is located in the proximal end of the X mitotic chromosome but in the salivary gland is associated with all four polytene chromosomes. Approximately 50% of the salivary gland rDNA of most R. americana larval groups analysed had an insertion in the R2 site, while no evidence for the presence of R1 elements was found. In-situ hybridization results showed that rDNA repeat units containing R2 take part in the structure of the extrachromosomal rDNA. Also, rDNA resistance to Bal 31 digestion could be interpreted as evidence for nonlinear rDNA as part of the rDNA in the salivary gland. Insertions in the rDNA of three other sciarid species were not detected by Southern blot and in-situ hybridization, suggesting that rDNA retrotransposons are significantly under-represented in their genomes in comparison with R. americana. R2 elements apparently restricted to R. americana correlate with an increased amount of repetitive DNA in its genome in contrast to other Rhynchosciara species. The results obtained in this work together with previous results suggest that evolutionary changes in the genus Rhynchosciara occurred by differential genomic occupation not only of satellite DNA but possibly also of rDNA retrotransposons.