Animal locomotion depends on proprioceptive feedback, which is generated by mechanosensory neurons. We performed a genetic screen for impaired walking in Drosophila and isolated a gene, stumble (stum). The Stum protein has orthologs in animals ranging from nematodes to mammals and is predicted to contain two transmembrane domains. Expression of the mouse orthologs of stum in mutant flies rescued their phenotype, which demonstrates functional conservation. Dendrites of stum-expressing neurons in legs were stretched by both flexion and extension of corresponding joints. Joint angles that induced dendritic stretching also elicited elevation of cellular Ca(2+) levels-not seen in stum mutants. Thus, we have identified an evolutionarily conserved gene, stum, which is required for transduction of mechanical stimuli in a specific subpopulation of Drosophila proprioceptive neurons that sense joint angles.