We have cloned and characterized JIL-1, a novel tandem kinase in Drosophila that associates with the chromosomes throughout the cell cycle. Antibody staining and live imaging of JIL-1-GFP transgenic flies show that JIL-1 localizes to the gene-rich interband regions of larval polytene chromosomes and is upregulated almost 2-fold on the hypertranscribed male X chromosome compared to autosomes. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that JIL-1 together with human MSKs defines a separate family of tandem kinases. That JIL-1 is a functional kinase was demonstrated by autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of histone H3 in vitro. Based on these findings, we propose that JIL-1 may play a role in transcriptional control potentially by regulating chromatin structure.