The Antp locus is involved in the development of the thorax of the larval and adult Drosophila. The absence of Antp+ function during embryogenesis results in the larval mesothorax exhibiting characteristics of the prothorax and an ensuing lethality; the loss of Antp+ function in the development of the adult thorax causes specific portions of the leg, wing and humeral imaginal discs to develop abnormally. Every Antp mutation, however, does not cause all of these developmental defects. Certain mutant alleles disrupt humeral and wing disc development without affecting leg development, and they are not deficient for the wild-type function required during embryogenesis. Other Antp mutations result in abnormal legs, but do not alter dorsal thoracic development. Mutations of each type can complement to produce a normal adult fly, which suggests that there are at least two discrete functional units within the locus. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that each of the developmental defects arises from the alteration of a different physical region within the Antp DNA. These observations indicate that the complete developmental role of the Antp locus is defined by the spatial and temporal regulation of the expression of several individual functional units.