The Drosophila homeotic gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx) encodes transcriptional regulatory proteins (UBX) that specify thoracic and abdominal segmental identities. Ubx autoregulation was examined by manipulating UBX levels, both genetically and with an inducible transgene, and monitoring the effect of these manipulations on the expression of Ubx and Ubx-lacZ reporter genes. Positive autoregulation by Ubx is restricted to the visceral mesoderm, while in other tissues Ubx negatively autoregulates. In some cases, negative autoregulation stabilizes UBX levels, while in others it modulates the spatial and temporal patterns of UBX expression. This modulation of UBX expression may enable Ubx to specify distinct identities in different segments. The upstream control region of Ubx contains multiple autoregulatory elements for both positive and negative autoregulation.