In addition to the previously identified Drosophila cdc2 and cdc2c genes, we have identified four additional cdc2-related genes with low stringency and polymerase chain reaction approaches. Sequence comparisons suggest that the four putative kinases represent the Drosophila homologues of vertebrate cdk4/6, cdk5, PCTAIRE, and PITSLRE kinases. Although the similarity between human and Drosophila homologues is extensive in the case of cdk5, PCTAIRE, and PITSLRE kinases (78%, 58%, and 65% identity in the kinase domain), only limited conservation is observed for Drosophila cdk4/6 (47% identity). However, like vertebrate cdk4 and cdk6, Drosophila cdk4/6 binds also to a D-type cyclin according to the results of two-hybrid experiments in yeast. Northern blot analysis indicated that the four Drosophila kinases are expressed throughout embryogenesis. Expression in early embryogenesis appeared to be ubiquitous according to in situ hybridization. Abundant expression already at the start of embryogenesis and long before neuron differentiation was also observed in the case of cdk5 protein, which has been described as predominantly neuron specific in mice. Sequence conservation and expression pattern, therefore, suggest that all of these kinases perform important cellular functions.