Sex determination in Drosophila is controlled by a cascade of regulatory genes. Here we describe hermaphrodite (her), a new component of this regulatory cascade with pleiotropic zygotic and maternal functions. Zygotically, her+ function is required for female sexual differentiation: when zygotic her+ function is lacking, females are transformed to intersexes. Zygotic her+ function may also play a role in male sexual differentiation. Maternally, her+ function is needed to ensure the viability of female progeny: a partial loss of her+ function preferentially kills daughters. In addition, her has both zygotic and maternal functions required for viability in both sexes. Temperature sensitivity prevails for all known her alleles and for all of the her phenotypes described above, suggesting that her may participate in an intrinsically temperature-sensitive process. This analysis of four her alleles also indicates that the zygotic and maternal components of of her function are differentially mutable. We have localized her cytologically to 36A3-36A11.