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We show that different Drosophila actin isoforms are not interchangeable. We sequenced the six genes that encode conventional Drosophila actins and found that they specify amino acid replacements in 27 of 376 positions. To test the -significance of these changes we used directed mutagenesis to introduce 10 such conversions independently, into the Act88F flight musclespecific actin gene. We challenge these variant actins to replace the native protein by transforming germline chromosomes of a Drosophila strain lacking flight muscle actin. Only one of the 10 reproducibly perturbed myofibrillar function demonstrating that most isoform-specific amino acid replacements are of minor significance. In order to establish the consequences of multiple amino acid replacements, we substituted portions of the Drosophila Act88F actin gene with corresponding regions of genes encoding other isoforms. Only one of five constructs tested engendered normally functioning flight muscles, and the severity of myofibrillar defects correlated with the number of replacement within the chimeric genes. Finally, we completely converted the flight muscle actin-encoding gene to one specifying a nonmuscle isoform, a change entailing a total of 18 amino acid replacements. Transformation of flies with this construct resulted in disruption of flight muscle structure and function. We conclude that actin isoform sequences are not equivalent and that effects of the amino acid replacements, while minor individually, collectively confer unique properties.