PAX-6 proteins are involved in eye and brain development in many animals. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans the pax-6 locus encodes multiple PAX-6 isoforms both with and without a paired domain. Mutations in the C. elegans pax-6 locus can be grouped into three classes. Mutations that affect paired domain-containing isoforms cause defects in epidermal morphogenesis, epidermal cell fates, and gonad cell migration and define the class I (vab-3) complementation group. The class II mutation mab-18(bx23) affects nonpaired domain-containing isoforms and transforms the fate of a sensory organ in the male tail. Class III mutations affect both paired domain and nonpaired domain isoforms; the most severe class III mutations are candidate null mutations in pax-6. Class III mutant phenotypes do not resemble a simple sum of class I and class II phenotypes. A comparison of class I and class III phenotypes indicates that PAX-6 isoforms can interact additively, synergistically, or antagonistically, depending on the cellular context.