Chromosomal region 68D/E is required for various aspects of Drosophila gut development; within this region maps the Brachyury homolog T-related gene (Trg), DNA of which rescues the hindgut defects of deficiency 68D/E. From a screen of 13,000 mutagenized chromosomes we identified six non-complementing alleles that are lethal over deficiencies of 68D/E and show a hindgut phenotype. These mutations constitute an allelic series and are all rescued to viability by a Trg transgene. We have named the mutant alleles and the genetic locus they define brachyenteron (byn); phenotypic characterization of the strongest alleles allows determination of the role of byn in embryogenesis. byn expression is activated by tailless, but byn does not regulate itself. byn expression in the hindgut and anal pad primordia is required for the regulation of genes encoding transcription factors (even-skipped, engrailed, caudal, AbdominalB and orthopedia) and cell signaling molecules (wingless and decapentaplegic). In byn mutant embryos, the defective program of gene activity in these primordia is followed by apoptosis (initiated by reaper expression and completed by macrophage engulfment), resulting in severely reduced hindgut and anal pads. Although byn is not expressed in the midgut or the Malpighian tubules, it is required for the formation of midgut constrictions and for the elongation of the Malpighian tubules.