Several genes have been identified that affect the specification of unique neuronal identities during development of the Drosophila central nervous system. At least two of these genes, fushi tarazu (ftz) and even-skipped (eve) share a common structural motif, the homoeobox, which encodes a sequence-specific DNA-binding domain (homoeodomain). A family of related proteins has been recently characterized in mammals and nematodes that contain a diverged homoedomain as part of a structure referred to as a POU domain. Mammalian genes encoding POU domains have region-specific patterns of expression in the central nervous system, indicating a potential role for them in the regulation of neuronal development. The nematode POU-domain gene, unc-86, is involved in the determination of neuroblast lineages leading to serotonergic and dopaminergic neurons. We have now identified a Drosophila gene, Cfla, encoding a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein containing a highly conserved POU domain. The Cfla gene product binds to a DNA element required for expression of the dopa decarboxylase gene (Ddc) in selected dopaminergic neurons, implying that it functions as a neuron-specific transcription factor.