The active exogenous murine leukemia virus sequences of mouse cells growing in culture are preferentially digested by deoxyribonuclease I in metaphase chromosomes. As determined by nuclear nick translation, all of the gene sequences of these cells active during interphase are in a deoxyribonuclease I-sensitive conformation during metaphase. This method of nick translation can therefore be used to label chromosomes in situ in order to visualize the active regions of the genome.