Gain-of-function alleles of the Drosophila gene Bearded (Brd) cause sensory organ multiplication and loss phenotypes indistinguishable at the cellular level from those caused by loss-of-function mutations in the genes of the Notch pathway (Leviten, M. W. and Posakony, J. W. (1996). Dev. Biol. 176, 264–283). We have carried out a molecular analysis of the structure and expression of both wild-type and mutant Brd transcription units. We find that the Brd transcript is truncated and accumulates to substantially higher levels in the gain-of-function mutants, due to the insertion of a transposable element of the blood family in the Brd 3′ untranslated region (UTR). The wild-type Brd 3′ UTR includes three copies of a 9-nucleotide sequence (CAGCTTTAA) that we refer to as the ‘Brd box’. Moreover, the 3′ UTRs of Brd and of the m4 transcription unit of the Enhancer of split gene complex [E(spl)-C] exhibit an unusually high degree of sequence identity that includes not only Brd box sequences but also a second motif we refer to as the ‘GY box’ (GTCTTCC). We find that both the Brd box and the GY box are also present in the 3′ UTRs of several basic helix-loop-helix repressor-encoding genes of the E(spl)-C, often in multiple copies, suggesting that a novel mode of post-transcriptional regulation applies to Brd and many E(spl)-C genes. The fact that the more abundant Brd mutant mRNA lacks the GY box and two of the Brd boxes present in wild-type Brd mRNA suggests that either or both of these elements may confer instability on transcripts that contain them. Finally, we find that Brd encodes a novel small protein of only 81 amino acids that is predicted to include a basic amphipathic alpha-helix. The deduced Brd protein shows sequence similarity to the E(spl)m4 protein, which is likewise expected to include a basic amphipathic alpha-helix, suggesting that the two proteins have related biochemical functions.