Genetic deficiencies of the bithorax-complex (BX-C) in Drosophila, have been used to recover recessive lethal mutations in this chromosome region following mutagenesis. Complementation analysis separates these lethal mutations into five groups within a smaller deficiency, thought to remove the entire BX-C, and into 20 to the left and 4 to the right of the region. Homozygotes for each of only three groups of lethals, Ubx, abdA and AbdB, produce homoeotic segmental transformations in embryos. The functional domains of abdA and AbdB have been defined by changes in the appearance of larval hypodermal structures and of clones in imaginal tissue. The function abdA is required in all the compartments caudal to the anteroposterior border of abdominal segment 1 up to and including the anterior region of abdominal segment 8, whilst AbdB is required in abdominal segments 5 to 9. One allele of AbdB produces a ninth abdominal setal band and structures characteristic of head segments posterior to A8. Rare adult survivors hemizygous for an AbdB allele have eight abdominal segments in both sexes, and lack genitalia in females. Our findings are discussed in the context of the organisation of genetic functions within the BX-C.