The heterochromatin of chromosomes 2 and 3 of Drosophila melanogaster contains about 30 essential genes defined by genetic analysis. In the last decade only a few of these genes have been molecularly characterized and found to correspond to protein-coding genes involved in important cellular functions. Moreover, several predicted genes have been identified by annotation of genomic sequence that are associated with polytene chromosome divisions 40, 41 and 80 but their locations on the cytogenetic map of the heterochromatin are still uncertain. To expand our current knowledge of the genetic functions located in heterochromatin, we have performed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) mapping to mitotic chromosomes of nine bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) carrying several predicted genes and of 13 P element insertions assigned to the proximal regions of 2R and 3L. We found that 22 predicted genes map to the h46 region of 2R and eight map to the h47 regions of 3L. This amounts to at least 30 predicted genes located in these heterochromatic regions, whereas previous studies detected only seven vital genes. Finally, another 58 genes localize either in the euchromatin-heterochromatin transition regions or in the proximal euchromatin of 2R and 3L.