The achaete-scute gene complex (AS-C), involved in differentiation of the sensory chaetes of D. melanogaster, and the yellow locus have been cloned. The yellow locus is the most distal and is followed, proximally, by the achaete and the scute loci. In the scute locus (75 kb), three transcription units separated by long stretches of DNA give rise to poly(A)+ RNAs of 1.6, 1.2, and 1.6 kb. Most DNA lesions associated with scute mutations map within the presumably untranscribed DNA. Their mutant phenotypes are stronger the closer the lesions are to the structural gene of one transcript (T4 RNA). Genetic and developmental data suggest that only this RNA is fundamental for the scute function. Its transcription might be perturbed by far removed DNA lesions. A second transcript is probably implicated in the lethal of scute embryonic function, while the third transcript is unnecessary for the differentiation of most macrochaetes. Two additional polyadenylated RNAs are transcribed from the achaete (1.1 kb) and yellow (1.9 kb) loci.