A pulse of the steroid hormone ecdysone at the end of Drosophila larval development triggers coordinate changes in both larval and imaginal tissues that result in metamorphosis to the adult fly. In larval salivary glands, this pulse activates a genetic regulatory hierarchy manifested by the induction of two kinds of transcription puffs in the polytene chromosomes: a small set of "early" puffs representing a primary response to the hormone, and a complex set of "late" puffs whose delayed appearance is dependent on proteins synthesized during the primary response. We isolated a 50-kb ecdysone-inducible gene, E75, that occupies the early puff locus at 75B. E75 contains two overlapping transcription units. The E75 A unit is a coextensive with the E75 gene and contains six exons: two 5'-proximal exons, A0 and A1, which are specific to this unit, and exons 2-5, which are common to both units. The E75 B unit is 20 kb long and contains five exons, a 5'-terminal exon, B1, located within the second intron of E75 A, and the common exons 2-5. Large open reading frames start within the first exon of each unit and continue into the last exon and therefore encode two different proteins. Both proteins exhibit sequence similarity to the conserved DNA-binding and hormone-binding domains of proteins in the steroid receptor superfamily. The two putative zinc fingers that characterize the DNA-binding domain are encoded by exon A1 and exon 2, so that the E75 A protein contains both fingers, whereas the E75 B protein contains only the second. Both proteins contain the same putative hormone-binding domain encoded by exon 4.