The bithorax complex in Drosophila melanogaster is a cluster of homeotic genes that specify developmental pathways for many of the body segments of the fly. The DNA of the bithorax complex has been isolated, and a region of 195,000 base pairs that covers the left half of the complex is described here. The lesions associated with many of the bithorax complex mutants have been identified, and most are due to DNA rearrangements. Most of the spontaneous mutants have insertions of a particular mobile element named "gypsy." This element affects the functions of sequences removed from the site of insertion. Mutant lesions for a given phenotypic class are distributed over large DNA distances of up to 73,000 base pairs.