Cecropin is a type of antibacterial peptide that is synthesized in response to infection and has been characterized in many insect species and one mammal. The Cecropin locus of Drosophila melanogaster also contains the gene Andropin, which has been identified only in this species and encodes a male-specific antibacterial peptide. As a first step in studying the molecular evolution of the cecropin and andropin genes among Drosophila species, we have isolated genomic clones that cover the Cecropin locus in Drosophila virilis. The cloned region totals approximately 25 kb, within which a 9-kb fragment contains four cecropin genes and one pseudogene. All four genes have a high level of sequence homology to D. melanogaster Cecropin, about 80% identity in the coding regions, and the intron positions are conserved. As in D. melanogaster and other insects, kappa B-related cis-regulatory elements are found upstream of these cecropin genes. An Andropin-related sequence was not identified in D. virilis; however, genome Southern hybridizations suggest that Andropin-related sequences are present in at least the melanogaster species subgroup. Analysis of 19 insect cecropin genes identifies a common ancestral Cecropin before the divergence of Diptera and Lepidoptera. In addition, D. melanogaster and D. virilis can be identified by monophyletic clades for Cecropin. In contrast, the Lepidopteran species show polyphyletic relationships for duplicated cecropin genes.