Involvement of the cAMP cascade in Drosophila learning and memory is suggested by the aberrant behavioral phenotypes of the mutants dunce (cAMP phosphodiesterase) and rutabaga (adenylyl cyclase). Line DCO581, isolated via an enhancer detector screen for genes preferentially expressed in the mushroom bodies, contains a transposon in the first exon of the catalytic subunit gene (DCO) of protein kinase A (PKA). RNA in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry show that DCO is preferentially expressed in the mushroom bodies. The DCO581 insertion and an independently isolated hypomorphic allele (DCOB10) each produce homozygous lethality and a 40% decrease in PKA activity in heterozygotes. This decrease has mild effects on learning but no effect on memory. However, the 80% reduction in activity obtained by constructing heteroallelic yet viable DCO581/DCOB10 animals results in a dramatic learning and memory deficit. These results suggest that PKA plays a crucial role in the cAMP cascade in mushroom bodies to mediate learning and memory processes.