Evi-2, a common site of viral integration in BXH-2 myeloid lymphomas, is located within a large intron of the Nf1 tumor suppressor gene. Viral integration at Evi-2 appears to induce disease by disrupting normal Nf1 expression. During our attempts to characterize the nature of the proviruses located at Evi-2, we found that approximately half of the proviruses were defective nonecotropic proviruses (A. M. Buchberg, H. G. Bedigian, N. A. Jenkins, and N. G. Copeland, Mol. Cell. Biol. 10:4658-4666, 1990). This was surprising, since most proviruses characterized at other BXH-2 common integration sites are full-length ecotropic viruses. In the studies described here, we found that this defective provirus carries two large deletions, one in pol and one in env, and is structurally related to another murine retrovirus, the murine AIDS retrovirus. By using oligonucleotide probes specific for this defective provirus, designated MRV, we showed that MRV- related proviruses are carried as endogenous germ line proviruses in most inbred strains. In addition, we identified the endogenous MRV provirus that gives rise to the defective proviruses identified at Evi-2. We present a model that accounts for the positive selection of MRV proviruses at Evi-2, which may allow selective identification of common viral integration sites harboring tumor suppressor genes.