The Drosophila melanogaster homologue of the Anopheles gambiae C3 cDNA has been isolated and characterized by sequence analysis. The encoded protein was localized by immunochemical and immunocytochemical methods. The Drosophila C3 protein is highly similar to homologues of disputed function, which have previously been identified in fungi, plants and animals. The protein is ubiquitous and localized in the cytoplasm. Cell fractionation followed by detection with a specific antibody preparation shows that the protein is associated with the 40S ribosomal subunit. The C3 gene is located in section 101F of chromosome 4. Antisense transgenic analysis shows that this gene is essential for oogenesis. The most prominent phenotype resulting from antisense depletion of C3 RNA is disappearance of the follicular cells of the ovary (where the concentration of C3 protein is normally high) and abnormalities of the associated germline derivatives, leading to failure of egg production.