Genetic analysis of the 8D3;8D8-9 segment of the Drosophila melanogaster X chromosome has assigned seven complementation groups to this region, three of which are new. A Polycomb group (Pc-G) gene, multi sex combs (mxc), is characterized and mutant alleles are described. Besides common homeotic transformations characteristic of Pc-G mutants that mimic the ectopic gain of function of BX-C and ANT-C genes, mxc mutants show other phenotypes: they zygotically mimic, in males and females, the characteristic lack of germ line seen in progeny of some maternal effect mutants of the so-called posterior group (the grandchildless phenotype). Loss of normal mxc function can promote uncontrolled malignant growth which indicates a possible relationship between Pc-G genes and tumour suppressor genes. We propose that gain-of-function of genes normally repressed by the wild-type mxc product could, in mxc mutants, give rise to an incoherent signal which would be devoid of meaning in normal development. Such a signal could divert somatic and germ line development pathways, provoke the loss of cell affinities, but allow or promote growth.