The Drosophila glutathione S-transferase (gstD) genes are a family of divergently transcribed, intronless genes and pseudogenes. Under control conditions, the steady-state level of gstD1 mRNA is 20-fold higher than that of the gstD21 mRNA despite a lower transcription rate of the gstD1 gene. The GST D1 protein level is four times as abundant as the GST D21 protein. The gstD1 and gstD21 genes responded rapidly to pentobarbital (PB) as changes in mRNA levels were detectable within 30 min of treatment. Maximal induction of gstD1 and gstD21 resulted in 3-fold and 20-fold elevation of their respective mRNA levels. The major mechanism for the increase in gstD1 mRNAs appears to be transcriptional activation. The 2-fold increase in the rate of gstD21 transcription, however, cannot fully account for the 20-fold increase in the steady-state level of gstD21 mRNA. Therefore, post-transcriptional mechanism(s) should also be responsible for the increase of gstD21 mRNA by PB. Because the gstD21 mRNA is relatively unstable under control conditions, induction of the intronless gstD21 mRNA by PB occurs mainly at the level of enhanced mRNA stability. The GST D1 protein level in adult Drosophila was increased approximately 2-fold after PB treatment, whereas the GST D21 level remained relatively the same. Thus, an increase in gstD21 mRNA stability by PB treatment is probably coupled to a regulatory effect at the translational level.