Little is known about the way higher-order chromatin structure influences gene expression and chromosome topology in general. Genetic analysis in Drosophila has led to the discovery of two classes of genes, the regulators of homeotic genes and the modifiers of position-effect variegation, which seem to be good candidates for encoding some of the factors regulating chromatin functions. The Trithorax-like gene we described here is required for the normal expression of the homeotic genes and is a modifier of position-effect variegation. We found that Trithorax-like encodes the GAGA factor which is involved in the formation of an accessible chromatin structure at promoter sequences. Our genetic analysis suggests that the chromatin modelling function of the GAGA factor is not restricted to promoter regions.