Several lethal mutations were identified previously in the 84BD interval of the Drosophila melanogaster third chromosome (Lewis et al., 1980; Cavener et al., 1986b). We have examined the l(3)84Cd complementation group and found that mutants exhibit novel cuticular defects and die during larval development. The lethal phase occurs during the first larval molt or subsequently during the second instar larval stage; hence, we have named the gene stranded at second (sas). There are no apparent effects on the rate of development of embryos or first instar larvae. Second instar larvae which survive the molt exhibit a marked reduction in growth and eventually die as small second instar larvae. Incomplete penetrance in some weak sas alleles can yield fertile adults. In addition to the lethal phenotype, a segmentally repeated pattern of tanned spots is found within the ventral setal belts of mutant larvae. The position of the spots is always either between the fourth and fifth row of setae (cuticular projections) or between the first and second row of setae. The spots are adjacent to the muscle attachment sites in the setal belt region. Another common larval phenotype is the abnormal tanning of the ventral surface of the pharynx. The sas gene was cloned, and both the cuticular tanning and the larval lethal phenotypes were complemented by P-element-mediated transformation with a genomic DNA-cDNA construct. Three major sas transcripts are expressed throughout development in cuticle secreting epidermal tissues. The sas transcripts show stage- and tissue-specific patterns of expression with switches in transcript patterns occurring at the molts. The inferred 1348-amino-acid sequence suggests that sas encodes a cell surface protein which functions as a receptor. The putative extracellular region contains four tandem repeats of a cysteine-rich motif which is similar to a cysteine pattern present in procollagen and in thrombospondin. Following this region are at least three copies of a fibronectin type III class repeat. The short (35 amino acids) intracellular domain contains a sequence (NPXY) that has been implicated in endocytosis via coated pits.