Genetically marked P elements inserted into the subtelomeric satellites of Drosophila show repression and variegation of the reporter gene. One such white+ reporter, inserted between the subtelomeric satellite and the terminal HeT-A array in the left arm of chromosome 2 (2L), is sensitive to its context; changes in the structure of the telomere region can be identified by changes in eye color. Addition of HeT-A or TART elements to the 2L terminus increases w+ expression, and loss of sequence from the end decreases expression. This indicates that the telomeric retrotransposons in Drosophila have an activating influence on the repressed subterminal reporter gene. Changes in eye color due to altered expression of the transgene also allow the detection of interactions between homologous telomeres. The 2L arms that terminate in long HeT-A/TART arrays showed increased expression of the subterminal w+ transgene when the terminal repeats on the homologue are absent or markedly shorter. We propose that the chromatin structure of the terminal HeT-A/TART array and the activity of a putative promoter/enhancer element on HeT-A are affected by telomeric interactions. Such trans-activation may reflect control over HeT-A transcription and, thus, transposition activity.