The cis-acting sequences required for the adult-specific expression pattern of the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene of the Hawaiian picture-winged fruit fly, Drosophila affinidisjuncta were analyzed by germline transformation. Normally this gene produces two developmentally regulated transcripts. The upstream (distal) promoter produces a distal transcript, which makes up about 80% of the total in adults, while the downstream (proximal) promoter produces a corresponding proximal transcript, which accounts for the remainder. Previously constructed genes lacking regions corresponding to regulatory elements within the Drosophila melanogaster Adh gene or regions known to be required for full expression of the D. affinidisjuncta Adh gene in larvae were analyzed by introduction into the germline of D. melanogaster followed by RNase-protection analysis of RNA levels. In addition, to test a model of preferential promoter utilization by which transcription at the proximal promoter is inhibited by transcription initiated at the upstream distal promoter, a construction lacking the distal promoter was analyzed. Sequences homologous to the adult enhancer of the Adh gene of D. melanogaster appear to play a similar role in the D. affinidisjuncta gene. In contrast to what has been reported for other Drosophila Adh genes, this and some other regulatory elements are shared by the two promoters of the D. affinidisjuncta gene. Taken together, the results favor a model of stage-specific switching between the two promoters of the D. affinidisjuncta gene that involves competition for limiting components stimulating transcription, rather than interference by read-through from the upstream promoter.