Alus and B1s are short interspersed repeat elements (SINEs) derived from the 7SL RNA gene. Alus and B1s exist in the cytoplasm as non-coding RNA indicating that they are actively transcribed, but their function, if any, is unknown. Transcription of individual SINEs is a prerequisite for retroposition, but it is also possible that individual Alu and B1 elements have some cellular functions. Previous studies suggest that transcription of Alu elements depends on the presence of an RNA polymerase-III bipartite promoter and the poly-A tail. Sequencing of small RNAs has demonstrated that the members of the Y and S subfamily are expressed. We analyzed almost one million Alu sequences longer than 200 nucleotides for the presence of RNA polymerase-III bipartite promoter sequences. More than half contained a promoter indicating some potential for expression. We searched 7.7 million human EST sequences in dbEST for the presence of Alu non-coding RNAs and found evidence for the expression of 452. Analysis of mouse spermatogenic dbEST libraries revealed an apparent relationship between the level of differentiation and the level of B1-related sequences in the EST library.