The daughterless (da) gene in Drosophila functions in the regulation of at least three significant developmental pathways: sex determination, neurogenesis and oogenesis. As a member of the helix-loop-helix (HLH) family of DNA binding proteins, the da gene product appears to act as a transcription factor. Based on the genetic and molecular characterization of da, it has been proposed that the da protein (Da) functions as a generic member of this family, serving throughout development as a necessary binding partner for an assortment of other HLH proteins. As a result of temporally and/or spatially restricted expression, these binding partners would provide some regulatory specificity to the functional transcription complex. In order to participate in this way in the regulation of multiple genes, Da must be expressed in numerous times and places during development. Using anti-Da antibodies, we validate two predictions of this scenario of Da function: (1) Da protein is not only nuclear localized, but also associated with chromosomes in vivo; and (2) Da protein is widely distributed, both spatially and temporally, throughout development. With regard to the essential role of maternal da+ in progeny sex determination, little, if any, Da protein is synthesized in the maternal germline. This suggests that the female-specific germline function of da+ is provided to the zygote as maternally synthesized RNA that becomes translated early in embryogenesis.