Chromatin boundaries subdivide eukaryotic chromosomes into functionally autonomous domains of genetic activity. This subdivision insulates genes and/or regulatory elements within a domain from promiscuous interactions with nearby domains. While it was previously assumed that the chromosomal domain landscape is fixed, there is now growing evidence that the landscape may be subject to tissue and stage specific regulation. Here we report the isolation and characterization of a novel developmentally restricted boundary factor, Elba. We show that Elba is an unusual hetero-tripartite protein complex that requires all three proteins for DNA binding and insulator activity.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00171.001.