Embryos of Drosophila melanogaster were irradiated in the presumptive head region with a UV-laser microbeam of 20 μm diameter at two developmental stages, the cellular blastoderm and the extended germ band. The ensuing defects were scored in the cuticle pattern of the head of the first-instar larva, which is described in detail in this paper. The defects caused by irradiating germ band embryos when morphologically recognisable lobes appear in the head region were used to establish the segmental origin of various head structures. This information enabled us to translate the spatial distribution of blastoderm defects into a fate map of segment anlagen. The gnathal segments derive from a region of the blastoderm between 60% and 70% egg length (EL) dorsally and 60% and 80% ventrally. The area anterior to the mandibular anlage and posterior to the stomodaeum is occupied by the small anlagen of the intercalary and antennal segments ventrally and dorsally, respectively. The labrum, which originates from a paired anlage dorsally at 90% EL, is separated from the remaining head segments by an area for which we did not observe cuticle defects following blastoderm irradiation, presumably because those cells give rise to the brain. The dorsal and lateral parts of the cephalo-pharyngeal skeleton appear to be the only cuticle derivatives of the non-segmental acron. These structures derive from a dorso-lateral area just behind the putative brain anlage and may overlap the latter. In addition to the segment anlagen, the regions of the presumptive dorsal pouch, anterior lobe and post-oral epithelium, whose morphogenetic movements during head involution result in the characteristic acephalic appearance of the larva, have been projected onto the blastoderm fate map. The results suggest that initially the head of the Drosophila embryo does not differ substantially from the generalised insect head as judged by comparison of fate map and segmental organisation.