Individuals expressing recessive mutations in the Deformed (Dfd) locus of Drosophila melanogaster were examined for embryonic and adult defects. Mutant embryos were examined in both scanning electron microscope and light microscope preparations. The adult Dfd recessive mutant phenotype was assessed in somatic clones and in survivors homozygous for hypomorphic alleles of the gene. The time of Dfd+ action was determined by studying a temperature conditional allele. Dfd+ is required in three embryonic cephalic segments to form a normal head. Mutant embryos of Dfd display defects in derivatives of the maxillary segment, of the mandibular segment, and of some more anterior segments. In the adult fly, defects are seen in the posterior aspect of the head when the gene is mutant. A transformation from head to thoracic-like tissue is seen dorsally and a deletion of structures is seen ventrally. Shift studies utilizing a temperature conditional allele have shown that the gene product is necessary during at least two periods of development, during embryonic segmentation and head involution and during the late larval and pupal stages. From these studies we conclude that Dfd is a homeotic gene necessary for proper specification of both the embryonic and the adult head.