A recessive semi-lethal mutation resulting from the insertion of a P-lacW transposon at the cytological position 23A on the polytene chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster was found to affect the unfolding and expansion of the wings resulting in a loss of venation and a marked decrease in their size. Lethality was polyphasic with numerous animals dying during early larval development and displaying apparently collapsed tracheal trees. The gene was therefore designated as congested-like tracheae, or colt. The colt mutation resulted from the insertion of a P-lacW transposon within the coding region of a 1.4-kb transcript. Wild-type function was restored by inducing a precise excision of the P-lacW transposon, while a deletion of the colt locus, produced by imprecise excision of the P element, showed a phenotype similar to that of the original P insert. The colt gene consists of a single exon and encodes a protein of 306 amino acids made of three tandem repeats, each characterized by two predicted transmembrane segments and a loop domain. The COLT protein shares extensive homology with proteins in the mitochondrial carrier family and particularly with the DIF-1 protein of Caenorhabditis elegans, which has been shown to be maternally required for embryonic tissue differentiation. Our analysis revealed that zygotic colt function is dispensable for normal embryonic morphogenesis but is required for gas-filling of the tracheal system at hatching time of the embryo and for normal epithelial morphogenesis of the wings.