We have used a reverse genetics approach to isolate genes encoding two subunits of Drosophila melanogaster RNA polymerase II. RpII18 encodes the 18-kDa subunit and maps cytogenetically to polytene band region 83A. RpII140 encodes the 140-kDa subunit and maps to polytene band region 88A10:B1 ,2. Focusing on RpII140, we used in situ hybridization to map this gene to a small subinterval defined by the endpoints of a series of deficiencies impinging on the 88A/B region and showed that it does not represent a previously known genetic locus. Two recently defined complementation groups, A5 and Z6, reside in the same subinterval and thus were candidates for the RpII140 locus. Phenotypes of A5 mutants suggested that they affect RNA polymerase II, in that the lethal phase and the interaction with developmental loci such as Ubx resemble those of mutants in the gene for the largest subunit, RpII215. Indeed, we have achieved complete genetic rescue of representative recessive lethal mutations of A5 with a P-element construct containing a 9.1-kb genomic DNA fragment carrying RpII140. Interestingly, the initial construct also rescued lethal alleles in the neighboring complementation group, Z6, revealing that the 9.1-kb insert carries two genes. Deleting coding region sequences of RpII140, however, yielded a transformation vector that failed to rescue A5 alleles but continued to rescue Z6 alleles. These results strongly support the conclusion that the A5 complementation group is equivalent to the genomic RpII140 locus.