The primary sequence of the major heat shock gene of D. melanogaster, that for the 70,000 protein, has been determined. One of the reading frames is devoid of stop codons for over 2000 bp. The region between the first ATG and the first stop codon encodes a protein of molecular weight 70,270. The 5' end of the messenger RNA was localized in the DNA sequence by two independent methods. The 5' flanking sequences of three distinct 70K genes were also determined. Extensive homology in the primary sequences extends about 500 bp upstream from the ATG, which is the presumptive initiation of protein synthesis. Each 70K gene has the putative promoter sequence TATAAATA about 325 bp upstream from this ATG. A heptanucleotide sequence identified as the capping site for other messengers is found 24-30 bp downstream from the ends of the A-T-rich sequence. A 12 bp sequence with dyad symmetry begins 23 bp upstream from the beginning of the above A-T-rich sequence.