We report the molecular cloning of Drosophila genes encoding putative lipase homologs, Dm lip1, lip2 and lip3, the definition of their structure and the expression patterns during development. These Drosophila lipases are related to acid lipases, with a common GHSQG motif, within a more general consensus GXSXG, identified as the active site shared by all the members of lipase superfamily. The lip1 and lip3 genes are transcribed in different tissues and developmental stages, suggesting that they have different functions. The lip1 gene, coding for a protein similar to digestive lipases, is expressed in ovaries and early embryos and, with a different sized transcript, in all the other developmental stages. The lip3 gene, whose translation product is more similar to lysosomal acid lipases, is expressed only during the larval period. The lip2 gene seems non-functional. The Drosophila putative lipases do not show similarity with the Drosophila yolk proteins that are reported to have sequence similarity with lipoprotein lipases, but share a consistent similarity with lepidopteran proteins reported as egg specific or yolk proteins, probably corresponding to lipase homologs. The results reported here are discussed in relation to the evolution and functions of lipases within the between species.