Previous studies described three different classes of glial cells in the developing CNS of the early Drosophila embryo that prefigure and ensheath the major CNS axon tracts. Among these are 6 longitudinal glial cells on each side of each segment that overlie the longitudinal axon tracts. Here we use transformant lines carrying a P element containing a 130 bp sequence from the fushi tarazu gene in front of the lacZ reporter gene to direct beta-galactosidase expression in the longitudinal glia. Using this molecular lineage marker, we show that 1 of the "neuroblasts" in each hemisegment is actually a glioblast, which divides once symmetrically, in contrast to the typical asymmetric neuroblast divisions, producing 2 glial cells, which migrate medially and divide to generate the 6 longitudinal glial cells. As with neuroblasts, mutations in Notch and other neurogenic genes lead to supernumerary glioblasts. The results indicate that the glioblast is similar to other neuroblasts; however, the positionally specified fate of this blast cell is to generate a specific lineage of glia rather than a specific family of neurons.