Traditional screens aiming at identifying genes regulating development have relied on mutagenesis. Here, we describe a new gene involved in bristle development, identified through the use of natural variation and selection. Drosophila melanogaster bears a pattern of 11 macrochaetes per heminotum. From a population initially sampled in Marrakech, a strain was selected for an increased number of thoracic macrochaetes. Using recombination and single nucleotide polymorphisms, the factor responsible was mapped to a single locus on the third chromosome, poils au dos, that encodes a zinc-finger-ZAD protein. The original, as well as new, presumed null, alleles of poils au dos, is associated with ectopic achaete-scute expression that results in the additional bristles. This suggests a possible role for Poils au dos as a repressor of achaete and scute. Ectopic expression appears to be independent of the activity of known cis-regulatory enhancer sequences at the achaete-scute complex that mediate activation at specific sites on the notum. The target sequences for Poils au dos activity were mapped to a 14 kb region around scute. In addition, we show that pad interacts synergistically with the repressor hairy and with Dpp signaling in posterior and anterior regions of the notum, respectively.