The sup-pf-2 mutation is a member of a group of dynein regulatory mutations that are capable of restoring motility to paralyzed central pair or radial spoke defective strains. Previous work has shown that the flagellar beat frequency is reduced in sup-pf-2, but little else was known about the sup-pf-2 phenotype (Huang, B., Z. Ramanis, and D.J.L. Luck, 1982. Cell. 28:115-125: Brokaw, C.J., and D.J.L. Luck, 1985, Cell Motil. 5:195- 208). We have reexamined sup-pf-2 using improved biochemical and structural techniques and by the analysis of additional sup-pf-2 alleles. We have found that the sup-pf-2 mutations are associated with defects in the outer dynein arms. Biochemical analysis of sup-pf-2-1 axonemes indicates that both axonemal ATPase activity and outer arm polypeptides are reduced by 40-50% when compared with wild type. By thin-section EM, these defects correlate with an ~45% loss of outer dynein arm structures. Interestingly, this loss is biased toward a subset of outer doublets, resulting in a radial asymmetry that may reflect some aspect of outer arm assembly. The defects in outer arm assembly do not appear to result from defects in either the outer doublet microtubules or the outer arm docking structures, but rather appear to result from defects in outer dynein arm components. Analysis of new sup-pf- 2 mutations indicates that the severity of the outer arm assembly defects varies with different alleles. Complementation tests and linkage analysis reveal that the sup-pf-2 mutations are alleles of the PF28/ODA2 locus, which is thought to encode the γ-dynein heavy chain subunit of the outer arm. The sup-pf-2 mutations therefore appear to alter the activity of the outer dynein arms by modification of the γ-dynein heavy chain.