Rider is a novel and recently active Ty1-copia-like retrotransposon isolated from the T3238fer mutant of tomato. Structurally, it is delimited by a duplication of target sites and contains two long terminal direct repeats and an internal open reading frame, which encodes a Ty1-copia-type polyprotein with characteristic protein domains required for retrotransposition. The family of Rider elements has an intermediate copy number and is scattered in the chromosomes of tomato. Rider family members in the tomato genome share high sequence similarity, but different structural groups were identified (full-size elements, deletion derivatives, and solo LTRs). Southern blot analysis in Solanaceae species showed that Rider was a Lycopersicon-specific element. Sequence analysis revealed that among other plants, two Arabidopsis elements (named as Rider-like 1 and Rider-like 2) are most similar to Rider in both the coding and noncoding regions. RT-PCR analysis indicates that Rider is constitutively expressed in tomato plants. The phylogeny-based parsimony analysis and the sequence substitution analyses of these data suggest that these Rider-like elements originated from a recent introgression of Rider into the tomato genome by horizontal transfer 1-6 million years ago. Considering its transcriptional activity and the recent insertion of the element into at least two genes, Rider is a recently active retrotransposon in the tomato genome.