The recessive-lethal, temperature-sensitive (ts) mutation of the tumor suppressor gene lethal(3)malignant brain tumor (l(3)mbt) causes in a single step the malignant transformation of the adult optic neuroblasts and ganglion mother cells in the larval brain at the restrictive temperature of 29 degrees C. The transformed cells are differentiation-incompetent and grow autonomously in a lethal and invasive fashion in situ in the brain as well as after transplantation in vivo into wild-type adult hosts. The imaginal discs show epithelial overgrowth. At the permissive temperature of 22 degrees C development is completely normal. The ts-period of gene activity responsible for 100% brain tumor suppression and normal imaginal disc development encompasses the first six hours of embryonic development. The l(3)mbt gene function is, however, also required thereafter for the proper differentiation of the brain and the imaginal discs. The l(3)mbt gene is located cytologically in the salivary gland chromosome bands 97E8-F11, and in molecular terms in 29 kb of DNA detected via a P-element insertional deletion.