Genomic and cDNA clones encoding the Drosophila melanogaster alpha-subunit of translational initiation factor 2 (eIF-2 alpha) were isolated. The D. melanogaster eIF-2 alpha gene encodes a 341 amino-acid (aa) protein that shares 57 and 44% identity to its human and yeast homologues, respectively. The regulatory phosphorylation site at Ser50 is embedded in a segment of 19 conserved aa residues. Analysis of the genomic DNA and cDNA clones indicated that eIF-2 alpha is a single-copy gene and its coding region is interrupted by a 260-bp intron. The D. melanogaster eIF-2 alpha mRNA is 1350 nt in length and is expressed throughout development.