Alcohol dehydrogenase (EC 18.104.22.168) of Drosophila melanogaster is coded by a single structural gene, active in both larvae and adults. The major larval and adult transcripts of Adh differ in their 5'-untranslated regions. The major larval mRNA is about 1100 bases long, some 50 bases shorter than the major adult transcript. The 5' end of the larval mRNA is colinear with the genomic sequence immediately adjacent to the coding region, starting 70 base pairs (bp) upstream of the initiation codon. By contrast, the adult mRNA shares only 36 of its 123 5'-untranslated bases with the larval mRNA; the remaining 87 are encoded by a sequence 654 bp upstream. Both initiation sites are preceded by a TATA box some 24 bp upstream. The developmental specificity of Adh expression is seen, therefore, to have a counterpart in the specificity of transcription initiation at the two separate promoter regions.