The Drosophila melanogaster gene Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (Alk) is homologous to mammalian Alk, which encodes a member of the Alk/Ltk family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). In humans, the t(2;5) translocation, which involves the ALK locus, produces an active form of ALK, which is the causative agent in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The physiological function of the Alk RTK, however, is unknown. In this paper, we describe loss-of-function mutants in the Drosophila Alk gene that cause a complete failure of the development of the gut. We propose that the main function of Drosophila Alk during early embryogenesis is in visceral mesoderm development.