Essential genes have been identified in the 1.5 map unit (m.u.) dpy-14-unc-29 region of chromosome 1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. Previous work defined nine genes with visible mutant phenotypes and nine genes with lethal mutant phenotypes. In this study, we have identified an additional 28 essential genes with 97 lethal mutations. The mutations were mapped using eleven duplication breakpoints, eight deficiencies and three-factor recombination experiments. Genes required for the early stages of development were common, with 24 of the 37 essential genes having mutant phenotypes arresting at an early larval stage. Most mutants of a gene have the same time of arrest; only four of the 20 essential genes with multiple alleles have alleles with different phenotypes. From the analysis of complementing alleles of let-389, alleles with the same time-of-arrest phenotype were classified as either hypomorphic or amorphic. Mutants of let-605, let-534 and unc-37 have both uncoordinated and lethal phenotypes, suggesting that these genes are required for the coordination of movement and for viability. The physical and genetic maps in the dpy-14 region were linked by positioning two N2/BO polymorphisms with respect to duplications in the region, and by localizing the right breakpoint of the deficiency hDf8 on the physical map. Using cross-species hybridization to C. briggsae, ten regions of homology have been identified, eight of which are known to be coding regions, based on Northern analysis and/or the isolation of cDNA clones.