We have investigated sensillum development in Drosophila embryos homozygous for mutations in the locus string (stg). In these embryos, cell division is blocked following blastoderm formation. This permits a study of the differentiative fate of undivided precursor cells, in particular those giving rise to the larval sensory organs (sensilla). Of the different cell fates normally represented in the sensilla (i.e., sensory neuron, thecogen cell, trichogen cell, tormogen cell, glia cell), only the phenotype of sensory neurons is expressed morphologically in stg embryos, suggesting that the neuronal fate predominates over the fates of the nonneuronal accessory cells. Consistent with this finding, the P element-lacZ insertion A1-2nd-29, which is a marker for trichogen and tormogen cells in the wild-type embryo, is not expressed in the body wall of the stg embryo. Some sensillum precursor cells appear to express a mixed fate in stg mutants: They express antigens (recognized by the monoclonal antibodies 22C10 and 21A6) which in the wild-type appear in separate cells (sensory neurons and thecogen cell, respectively). The differentiation of undivided cells in stg embryos is not restricted to the peripheral nervous system; in all types of tissues analyzed in this study (e.g., epidermis, intestine, muscle, CNS), precursor cells express characteristics normally exhibited by their progeny.