The characteristic morphology of many elements of the Drosophila body plan is crucially dependent upon the proper spatial expression of homeotic selector genes. The Deformed locus, which we isolated by virtue of its homology to the homeo box, is a candidate for a homeotic selector in the head region of the developing embryo. Here we show that null mutants of Deformed result in a loss of pattern elements derived from the maxillary and mandibular segments, and a duplication of a cuticular element of the larval head skeleton. Molecular analysis of the locus shows that Dfd transcripts are encoded in five exons distributed over 11 kb. The major transcript of 2.8 kb contains a 1758-bp open reading frame that would translate to yield a 63.5-kd protein containing a homeo domain and conspicuous regions of monotonic amino acid sequences. The Dfd protein exhibits extensive homology to a protein encoded by a Xenopus homeo box gene, Xhox 1A, suggesting that the Xenopus gene is the frog homologue of Dfd.