The subject of this study is the organization of essential genes in the 2 map-unit unc-22 IV region of the Caenorhabditis elegans genome. With the goal of achieving mutational saturation of essential genes in this region, 6491 chromosomes mutagenized with ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) were screened for the presence of lethal mutations in the unc-22 region. The genetic analysis of 21 lethal mutations in the unc-22 region resulted in the identification of 6 new essential genes, making a total of 36 characterized to date. A minimum of 49 essential genes are estimated to lie in this region. A set of seven formaldehyde-induced deficiencies of unc-22 and surrounding loci were isolated to facilitate the positioning of essential genes on the genetic and physical maps. In order to study essential genes at the molecular level, our approach was to rescue lethal mutations by the injection of genomic DNA in the form of cosmid clones into the germ-line of balanced heterozygotes carrying a lethal mutation. The cosmid clones containing let-56 and let-653 were identified by this method.