This study aimed firstly to establish the distribution and copy number within the Burkholderia cepacia complex of three insertion sequences (IS402, IS407 and IS 1416) that possess the ability to activate transcription and hence influence gene expression. A second aim was to map the genomic insertion sites of one of the active insertion sequences (IS407) to establish putative links between insertion site and downstream gene activation. The resulting data revealed that all three insertion sequences were present in one-third of the 66 isolates tested. The three insertion sequences were prevalent across the nine B. cepacia complex species, although IS402 was absent from the 16 Burkholderia anthina strains tested and IS407 was absent from all 10 Burkholderia pyrrocinia strains. IS407 copies from six strains (two Burkholderia cenocepacia strains and one strain each of Burkholderia multivorans, Burkholderia stabilis, Burkholderia vietnamiensis and B. anthina) were mapped to the genome using hemi-nested inverse PCR. Insertions were found upstream of genes with wide-ranging functions. This study suggests that the abundance and distribution of these active insertion sequences is likely to affect genomic plasticity, and potentially gene transcription and pathogenicity.