For many years, polyclonal antibodies raised against the plant glycoprotein horseradish peroxidase have been used to specifically stain the neural and male reproductive tissue of Drosophila melanogaster. This epitope is considered to be of carbohydrate origin, but no glycan structure from Drosophila has yet been isolated that could account for this cross-reactivity. Here we report that N-glycan core alpha1,3-linked fucose is, as judged by preabsorption experiments, indispensable for recognition of Drosophila embryonic nervous system by anti-horseradish peroxidase antibody. Further, we describe the identification by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography of two Drosophila N-glycans that, as already detected in other insects, carry both alpha1,3- and alpha1,6-linked fucose residues on the proximal core GlcNAc. Moreover, we have isolated three cDNAs encoding alpha1,3-fucosyltransferase homologues from Drosophila. One of the cDNAs, when transformed into Pichia pastoris, was found to direct expression of core alpha1,3-fucosyltransferase activity. This recombinant enzyme preferred as substrate a biantennary core alpha1,6-fucosylated N-glycan carrying two non-reducing N-acetylglucosamine residues (GnGnF6; Km 11 microm) over the same structure lacking a core fucose residue (GnGn; Km 46 microm). The Drosophila core alpha1,3-fucosyltransferase enzyme was also shown to be able to fucosylate N-glycan structures of human transferrin in vitro, this modification correlating with the acquisition of binding to anti-horseradish peroxidase antibody.