Using oligonucleotide primers derived from the aligned polypeptide sequences of several prokaryotic dnaA genes, we amplified from Drosophila melanogaster DNA a 557 bp fragment containing a single open reading frame. The predicted peptide sequence shows a significant similarity to previously characterized protein sequences that are encoded by the dnaA genes of several prokaryotes. The dnaA sequences are also detectable by PCR in DNA from Drosophila simulans and Nasonia vitripennis flies which are infected by a symbiotic bacterium assigned to the type species Wolbachia pipientis. A tetracycline treatment that eradicates bacterial parasites from insects, abolishes the dnaA sequences from Drosophila and Nasonia DNA. In addition, dnaA-positive Drosophila melanogaster contain numerous rod-shaped bacteria in embryos, which are abolished in subsequent generations after treatment with tetracycline. Combined with phylogenetic analysis of DnaA and 16S rRNA sequences, these results show that the dnaA cognate comes from Wolbachia. A survey of Drosophila stocks using PCR amplification of dnaA and 16S rRNA sequences showed that Wolbachia is widely spread among D. melanogaster laboratory strains but absent from several established strains of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata. Evidence is also presented that presence of the bacterium can cause partial cytoplasmic incompatibility between infected and non-infected D. melanogaster strains.