Krüppel (Kr), a gap gene of Drosophila, shows complex spatial patterns of expression during the different stages of embryogenesis. In order to identify cis-acting sequences required for normal Kr gene expression, we analysed the expression patterns of fusion gene constructs in transgenic embryos. In these constructs, bacterial lacZ expression was placed under the control of Kr sequences in front of a basal promoter. We identified cis-acting Kr control units which drive beta-galactosidase expression in 10 known locations of Kr expression in early and late embryos. More than one cis-regulatory element drives the expression in the anterior domain at the blastoderm stage, in the nervous system, the midline precursor cells and in the amino-serosa. In addition, two cis-acting elements direct the first zygotic expression of Kr in a striped subpattern within the central region of the blastoderm embryo. Both elements respond to alterations in the activities of maternal organizer genes known to be required for Kr expression in establishing the thoracic and anterior abdominal segments in the wild-type embryo.