The X-linked telomeric P elements TP5 and TP6 interact synergistically with non-telomeric P elements to repress hybrid dysgenesis. In this repression, the telomeric P elements exert maternal effects, which, however, are not sufficient to establish synergism with the non-telomeric P elements. Once synergism is established, the capacity to repress dysgenesis in the offspring of a cross persists for at least two generations after removing the telomeric P element from the genotype. At the molecular level, synergism between telomeric and non-telomeric P elements is correlated with effective elimination of P-element mRNA in the germ line. Maternally transmitted mutations in the genes aubergine, piwi and Suppressor of variegation 205 [Su(var)205] block the establishment of synergism between telomeric and non-telomeric P elements, and paternally transmitted mutations in piwi and Su(var)205 disrupt synergism that has already been established. These findings are discussed in terms of a model of cytotype regulation of P elements based on Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) that are amplified by cycling between sense and antisense species.