Numerous group I introns in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes behave as mobile genetic elements. The functional requirements for intron mobility were determined in the T4 phage system using an in vivo assay to measure intron homing with wild-type and mutant derivatives. Thus, it was demonstrated that intron mobility occurs in the context of phage recombination-dependent replication, a pathway that uses overlapping subsets of replication and recombination functions. The functional requirements for intron homing and the nature of recombinant products are only partially consistent with the accepted double-strand-break repair (DSBR) model for intron inheritance, and implicate additional homing pathways. Whereas ambiguities in resolvase requirements and underrepresentation of crossover recombination products are difficult to rationalize strictly by DSBR, these properties are most readily consistent with a synthesis-dependent strand annealing (SDSA) pathway. These pathways share common features in the strand invasion steps, but differ in subsequent repair synthesis and resolution steps, influencing the genetic consequences of the intron transfer event.