As an approach to evaluating the contribution of classes of endogenous viral sequences to leukemogenesis, a genomic library was prepared from the highly tumorigenic AKR SL12.3 cell line and screened for env-containing proviruses. An extensive battery of virus-derived probes and specific oligonucleotide probes were used to segregate 83 positive clones into related groups. The nonecotropic endogenous retroviruses were identified as members of the polytropic, modified polytropic, or xenotropic groups. At least three unique xenotropic proviruses were detected that differed from the published xenotropic sequence within a variable region of the 5' portion of env. Changes among the xenotropic proviruses included relative insertions and/or deletions that maintain an open reading frame and hence the potential to encode viable envelope gene products. Several recombinant viruses were also detected. Recombination was not random and primarily involved the formation of mink cell focus-inducing class I retroviruses via recombination between polytropic elements and ecotropic virus. One other recombinant was detected which contained ecotropic virus sequences in the 5' region encoding p15 of an otherwise xenotropic provirus. An interesting observation was the finding that certain clones contained more than one provirus within the average 20-kb cloned insert. This would not be expected if integration were totally random. The de novo recombinant proviruses identified here provide a series of potential candidates to be evaluated for their contribution to the tumorigencity of the SL12.3 cell line.