Here, we present the results of a comprehensive study of the distribution, evolution, heterogeneity, and phylogenetic relationships of the Ty3-Gypsy Atlantys long terminal repeat retrotransposable element family in Oryza. Atlantys element-related sequences make up a significant fraction of the genomes of species from the Officinalis complex as well as the Oryza ridleyi and O. granulata genomes. The proliferation of Atlantys elements, in many cases, took place after respective speciation events occurred. Most of the retrotranspositional events occurred within the last three million years. Atlantys is an ancient and ubiquitous component of the genus Oryza and has made significant contributions to genome size variation across the genus. Its structure is unusual when compared to other Ty3-Gypsy elements and its proliferation in the different Oryza species has been rapid and differential. © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008.