Cohesin is an evolutionarily conserved multiprotein complex required to establish and maintain sister chromatid cohesion. Here, we report the cloning and initial characterization of the Drosophila homologue of the fission yeast rad21 cohesin subunit, called Drad21. The Drad21 coding region was localized to centromeric heterochromatin and encodes a 715 amino acid (aa) protein with 42% aa identity to vertebrate Rad21p-homologues, 25% with Scc1p/Mcd1p (S. cerevisiae) and 28% with Rad21p (S. pombe). Sequences with similarity to the sites of proteolytic cleavage identified in Scc1p/Mcd1p are not evident in DRAD21. Northern blot and mRNA in-situ studies show that Drad21 is developmentally regulated, with high levels of expression in early embryogenesis, in S-phase cells of proliferating imaginal tissues, and in the early endocycling cells of the embryonic gut.