We have used the Drosophila ADH cDNA to engineer new fusion genes carrying both reporter activity and bleomycin/phleomycin resistance (Sh ble). Cassettes of ADH::Sh ble, Sh ble::ADH, or ADH::Sh ble::ADH with or without polyadenylation signals were constructed. Placed under the control of the strong CMV promoter, these constructs induced intense ADH substrate staining and phleomycin resistance, whatever the position of the ADH gene, in avian or mammalian cell lines. SW-based nonreplicative retroviral vectors were constructed and introduced into the appropriate packaging cell line. Titers up to 10(6) ADH forming units/ml of viral supernatant were obtained except for the ADH::Sh ble::ADH construct, which reached 10(5) ADH forming units. These retroviral vectors were inoculated to the E3 chick embryo via the coelom. Three days later, cells from different organs were put in culture for 24 h and stained to detect ADH activity. A large number of positive cells were found in cultures from all organs. The new fusion genes described here are, to our knowledge, the smallest (1.1 kb) published to date that carry both reporter and drug resistance properties. These genes represent the basis of a new retroviral vector model with three distinct properties in two genetic units; their advantage is to reduce the size and increase the efficiency of the vector.