Biologists require genetic as well as molecular tools to decipher genomic information and ultimately to understand gene function. The Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project is addressing these needs with a massive gene disruption project that uses individual, genetically engineered P transposable elements to target open reading frames throughout the Drosophila genome. DNA flanking the insertions is sequenced, thereby placing an extensive series of genetic markers on the physical genomic map and associating insertions with specific open reading frames and genes. Insertions from the collection now lie within or near most Drosophila genes, greatly reducing the time required to identify new mutations and analyze gene functions. Information revealed from these studies about P element site specificity is being used to target the remaining open reading frames.