In the present work, we have asked whether a group of 13 essential genes mapping to the heterochromatin of Drosophila melanogaster chromosome 2 are mutable following transposition of the I factor during I-R hybrid dysgenesis. We found that the frequency of lethal events mapping to chromosome 2 heterochromatin is surprisingly high, despite the low density of genetic functions identified in this region compared with euchromatin. Cytogenetic and molecular analyses indicated that the recovered mutations correspond either to insertions or to rearrangements. Moreover, chromosomes bearing specific heterochromatic lethal mutations were generated by recombination in the heterochromatin. Together, these data indicate that I factors transpose with high frequency into pericentric regions of chromosome 2 and may play a role in the evolution of constitutive heterochromatin.