The steroid hormone ecdysone triggers coordinate changes in Drosophila tissue development that result in metamorphosis. To advance our understanding of the genetic regulatory hierarchies controlling this tissue response, we have isolated and characterized a gene, EcR, for a new steroid receptor homolog and have shown that it encodes an ecdysone receptor. First, EcR protein binds active ecdysteroids and is antigenically indistinguishable from the ecdysone-binding protein previously observed in extracts of Drosophila cell lines and tissues. Second, EcR protein binds DNA with high specificity at ecdysone response elements. Third, ecdysone-responsive cultured cells express EcR, whereas ecdysone-resistant cells derived from them are deficient in EcR. Expression of EcR in such resistant cells by transfection restores their ability to respond to the hormone. As expected, EcR is nuclear and found in all ecdysone target tissues examined. Furthermore, the EcR gene is expressed at each developmental stage marked by a pulse of ecdysone.