Lack of zygotic expression of the l(1)giant locus (l(1)gt;3A1), produces embryos with defects in abdominal A5, 6, and 7 and within the head. Scanning electron microscopy at the time of segment formation reveals two regions of defects in the segmentation pattern: anteriorly the labial lobe and thoracic segments T1 and T2 are fused; posteriorly, abdominal segments A5-7 are disrupted. The mature embryo shows incomplete head involution and defects within A5-7; fusion of T1 and T2 is no longer observed. Localized cell death within neural and mesodermal tissues is observed at 7 hr of development; later ventral ganglia, A5-7, are missing. Double-mutant analyses of l(1)gt with maternal effect lethal mutations and mutations that generate homeotic, segment number, gap, or segment polarity phenotypes indicate that normal activity of l(1)gt is required for differentiation of two embryonic domains: one corresponding to labial, T1 and T2 segments, and the second corresponding to abdominal segments 5, 6, and 7.