Retroviral envelope (env)-like sequences in 2 cultivated allotetraploid cottons and their diploid progenitors have been identified and characterized in this study. DNA sequence analysis reveals that these sequences are heterogeneous. The observed sequence diversity, however, seems to preserve coding information. This is evidenced by the detection of the transmembrane domain (TM), which is the most conserved feature of the divergent retroviral env genes. The high ratio of synonymous to nonsynonymous changes suggests that these sequences are evolving under purifying selection. Phylogenetic analysis shows that Gossypium sequences closely cluster with a lineage of plant endogenous retroviruses that have an env-like gene. These results provide evidence for the antiquity and the wide diversity of env-like sequences in the Gossypium genome.