A large part of the genetic variation in alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity level in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster is associated with segregation of an amino acid replacement polymorphism at nucleotide 1490, which generates a difference in electrophoretic mobility. Part of the allozymic difference in activity level is due to a catalytic efficiency difference, which is also caused by the amino acid replacement, and part is due to a difference in the concentration of ADH protein. A previous site-directed in vitro mutagenesis experiment clearly demonstrated that the amino acid replacement has no effect on the concentration of ADH protein, nor does a strongly associated silent polymorphism at nucleotide 1443. Here we analyze associations between polymorphisms within the Adh gene and variation in ADH protein level for a number of chromosomes derived from natural populations. A sequence length polymorphism within the first intron of the distal (adult) transcript, 1, is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the amino acid replacement. Among a sample of 46 isochromosomal lines analyzed, all but one of the 14 Fast lines have 1 and all but one of the 32 Slow lines lack 1. The exceptional Fast line has an unusually low level of ADH protein (typical of Slow lines) and the exceptional Slow line has an unusually high level (typical of Fast lines). These results suggest that the 1 polymorphism may be responsible for the average difference in ADH protein between the allozymic classes. A previous experiment localized the effect on ADH protein to a 2.3-kb restriction fragment. DNA sequences of this fragment from several alleles of each allozymic type indicate that no other polymorphisms within this region are as closely associated with the ADH protein level difference as the 1 polymorphism.