Investors last month piled into "short" exchange-traded funds, which rise when equity markets fall, as some stocks took their worst beating in decades. More surprising, however, was that they were attracted to leveraged ETFs, which exaggerate market moves. Three of five newcomers to the accompanying list of September's popular ETFs, as measured by average daily dollar volume of turnover, were leveraged ProShares Ultra entries. Two of the three were of the ProShares Ultra Short variety, which moves opposite to respective benchmarks at accelerated velocities. ProShares Ultra Short Real Estate ( SRS), the 30th most popular ETF in August, advanced to 20th, while ProShares Ultra Short Oil & Gas ( DUG) ascended from 21st to 19th on the list. The "long" ProShares Ultra S&P 500 ( SSO) gained nine positions to finish 16th. The perils of leverage are apparent in SSO's drop of 19.6% in September, leaving its holders with a loss of 40% for the year. Five of the more common ETFs from the August top-20 list, all members of the iShares family, failed to make the September list. The once-trendy BRIC sector -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- has been losing its luster, as witnessed by the absence of iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 ( FXI) and iShares MSCI Brazil ( EWZ) from the adjoining list. Both were among the 20 most popular ETFs in August. The loss from the August list of iShares MSCI EAFE ( MSFT) underscores the diminishing popularity of overseas investments. Two of the worst-hit industries by the credit crunch lost representatives, as the iShares Dow Jones Real Estate ETF ( MSFT) and the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Financial U.S. Financial Sector ETF ( IYF) both failed to transition to the September roster.