A 2.2-kb region including the ac gene of Drosophila simulans has been sequenced. Interspecific divergence between Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans was estimated as 0.0695 and 0.0558 for silent and for all sites, respectively. Estimated silent site divergence for the ac region is comparable to that estimated for other regions of the genome between these species, indicating that silent sites of the ac region are not under significantly stronger functional constraint. Intraspecific variation in both species was also investigated. Restriction-site and length polymorphism in the ac region of D. simulans has been investigated for 103 X chromosome lines sampled from three natural populations in Spain using eight four-cutter restriction enzymes. Neither restriction-site nor length variation was detected in the three populations surveyed. In D. melanogaster restriction-site and length polymorphism in all major transcription units of the y-ac-sc region (23.1-kb region) has been studied using four four-cutter restriction enzymes for 245 X chromosome lines sampled from 10 natural populations (seven from Europe, two from North America and one from Japan). Fourteen restriction-site and 28 length polymorphisms were detected. There was some indication of population subdivision for North American vs. European samples of D. melanogaster. The frequency spectrum of restriction-site polymorphisms in European populations was skewed toward rarer frequencies than predicted by the neutral theory. Comparison of silent site variation at this telomeric region with that in the Adh 5'-flanking region showed a reduced level of heterozygosity in the y-ac-sc region. Since interspecific silent divergence is not reduced in the y-ac-sc region as compared to other regions, the reduction in standing levels of variation at this telomeric locus in both D. simulans and D. melanogaster is most easily explained by a hitchhiking effect of linked selected substitutions.