From a screen of pupal lethal lines of Drosophila melanogaster we identified a mutant strain that displayed a reproducible reduction in the larval response to light. Moreover, this mutant strain showed defects in the development of the adult visual system and failure to undergo behavioral changes characteristic of the wandering stage. The foraging third instar larvae remained in the food substrate for a prolonged period and died at or just before pupariation. Using a new assay for individual larval photobehavior we determined that the lack of response to light in these mutants was due to a primary deficit in locomotion. The mutation responsible for these phenotypes was mapped to the lethal complementation group l(2)34Dc, which we renamed tamas (translated from Sanskrit as "dark inertia"). Sequencing of mutant alleles demonstrated that tamas codes for the mitochondrial DNA polymerase catalytic subunit (DNApol-gamma125).