We isolated and characterized two related ubiquitin genes from Drosophila melanogaster, polyubiquitin and UB3-D. The polyubiquitin gene contained 18 repeats of the 228-base-pair monomeric ubiquitin-encoding unit arranged in tandem. This gene was localized to a minor heat shock puff site, 63F, and it encoded a constitutively expressed 4.4-kilobase polyubiquitin-encoding mRNA, whose level was induced threefold by heat shock. To investigate the pattern of expression of the polyubiquitin gene in developing animals, a polyubiquitin-lacZ fusion gene was introduced into the Drosophila genome by germ line transformation. The fusion gene was expressed at high levels in a tissue-general manner at all life stages assayed. The ubiquitin-encoding gene, UB3-D, consisted of one ubiquitin-encoding unit directly fused, in frame, to a nonhomologous tail sequence. The amino acid sequence of the tail portion of the protein had 65% positional identity with that of yeast UBI3 protein, including a region that contained a potential nucleic acid-binding motif. The Drosophila UB3-D gene hybridized to a 0.9-kilobase mRNA that was constitutively expressed, and in contrast to the polyubiquitin gene, it was not inducible by heat shock.