The Su(f) protein of Drosophila melanogaster shares extensive homologies with proteins from yeast (RNA14) and man (77 kD subunit of cleavage stimulation factor) that are required for 3' end processing of mRNA. These homologies suggest that su(f) is involved in mRNA 3' end formation and that some aspects of this process are conserved throughout eukaryotes. We have investigated the genetic and molecular complexity of the su(f) locus. The su(f) gene is transcribed to produce three RNAs and could encode two proteins. Using constructs that contain different parts of the locus, we show that only the larger predicted gene product of 84 kD is required for the wild-type function of su(f). Some lethal alleles of su(f) complement to produce viable combinations. The structures of complementing and noncomplementing su(f) alleles indicate that 84-kD Su(f) proteins mutated in different domains can act in combination for partial su(f) function. Our results suggest protein-protein interaction between or within wild-type Su(f) molecules.