The segmentation gene hunchback (hb) is involved in setting up the anterior-posterior axis of the Drosophila embryo. It is expressed maternally and zygotically and it plays a key role in integrating the effects of the anterior and posterior maternal systems. The hb gene from D. virilis has previously been cloned and was shown to be well conserved in its coding region, but less so in its upstream region which shows a more patchy pattern of conserved and diverged sequences. This work deals with the functional conservation of hb between the two species. We have mapped two additional regulatory elements for the expression of hb in the early embryo, namely the enhancer for the maternal expression and the enhancer region for the late blastoderm expression. Fragments containing these two elements, the previously identified bicoid dependent element for the early blastoderm expression of hb and the coding region were taken from D. virilis and tested in the D. melanogaster background. We find that all enhancer elements as well as the coding region are functionally conserved between the two species. Comparison of the upstream sequences that include the enhancer region for the late blastoderm expression reveal seven highly conserved blocks. Some of these contain consensus binding sites for transregulatory factors that are likely to control the respective expression domains.