A newly defined genetic locus designated lethal (1) optic ganglion reduced (l(1)ogre: 1-18.8, 6E1/2-6E4/5) is characterized. Four alleles have been isolated, one organismal viable and three organismal lethals. Histological analyses of these mutants at the light microscopic level have detected defects only in the developing and adult central nervous system (CNS). Examination of genetic mosaics suggests that the wild-type product of this locus may function specifically in the CNS. Analyses of staged material show that abnormalities first become apparent early in the larval period, indicating that the l(1)ogre+ gene product normally acts at or before this stage. No maternal effects were detectable. Determination of the temperature-sensitive period for lethality, of a temperature-sensitive heteroallelic combination, indicates that the l(1)ogre+ gene product also acts late in the larval period. These results show that the time of l(1)ogre+ gene action overlaps the period during which growth and assembly of the imaginal CNS occurs and are consistent with the hypothesis that l(1)ogre may act specifically in the imaginal CNS during its morphogenesis.