SUMMARY We characterize a newly discovered morphological difference between species of the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup. The muscle of Lawrence (MOL) contains about four to five fibers in D. melanogaster and Drosophila simulans and six to seven fibers in Drosophila mauritiana and Drosophila sechellia. The same number of nuclei per fiber is present in these species but their total number of MOL nuclei differs. This suggests that the number of muscle precursor cells has changed during evolution. Our comparison of MOL development indicates that the species difference appears during metamorphosis. We mapped the quantitative trait loci responsible for the change in muscle fiber number between D. sechellia and D. simulans to two genomic regions on chromosome 2. Our data eliminate the possibility of evolving mutations in the fruitless gene and suggest that a change in the twist might be partly responsible for this evolutionary change.