Many genes in parasitic nematodes are both cis- and trans-spliced. Previous studies have demonstrated that a 7 nt element encoded in the first intron of the Brugia malayi 70 kDa heat shock protein (BmHSP70) gene was necessary to permit trans-splicing of transgenic mRNAs in embryos transfected with constructs encoding portions of the BmHSP70 gene. Here we demonstrate that this element (the B. malayi HSP70 trans-splicing motif, or BmHSP70 TSM) is necessary and sufficient to direct trans-splicing of transgenic mRNAs derived from two genes naturally containing this motif. Mutations introduced into any position of the BmHSP70 TSM abrogated its ability to direct trans-splicing. Transgenic mRNAs derived from embryos transfected with constructs containing promoters and associated downstream domains from two normally trans-spliced genes that lack a BmHSP70 TSM homologue (the B. malayi 12 kDa small subunit ribosomal protein (BmRPS12) gene and the B. malayi RNA-binding protein (BmRBP1) gene), were not trans-spliced. Transfer of the BmHSP70 TSM into the first intron of the BmRPS12 gene rendered it competent for trans-splicing. Insertion of the BmHSP70 TSM into the single intron of the BmRBP1 gene did not render it trans-splicing competent. However, tagged constructs of the full-length BmRBP1 gene were trans-splicing competent. An analysis of the first exons and introns of over 200 trans-spliced B. malayi genes found homologues for the BmHSP70 TSM in roughly 25%. Thus, while the BmHSP70 TSM is necessary and sufficient to direct trans-splicing in some genomic contexts, independent trans-splicing signals are employed by other genes. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.