The sequence of paired, a pair-rule gene required for segmentation in Drosophila, is presented. A search for genes with domains homologous to the paired gene was initiated and three homologues from a set of 12 were characterized with respect to temporal or spatial expression and sequence homologies. All four are transcribed in early development, one in the oocyte and during cleavage stages in the form of a gradient. In addition to the prd-specific his-pro repeat, some of the 12 genes contain M-repeats and two new types of homeo boxes not detectable by hybridization with the two known classes of homeo boxes. The observed linking of gene sets through combinations of homologies coding for protein domains is consistent with a general network concept of gene action.