The spore coat of Dictyostelium is formed de novo from proteins secreted from vesicles and cellulose synthesized across the plasma membrane as differentiating spores rise up the stalk. The mechanism by which these events are coordinated is not understood. In the course of experiments designed to test the function of the inner layer coat protein SP85 (PsB), expression of a specific partial length fragment was found to interrupt coat assembly after protein secretion and prior to cellulose synthesis in 85% of the cells. This fragment consisted of SP85's N-terminal domain, containing prespore vesicle targeting information, and its Cys-rich C1 domain. The effect of the NC1 fusion was not cell autonomous in interstrain chimeras, suggesting that it acted at the cell surface. SP85-null spores presented an opposite phenotype in which spores differentiated prematurely before reaching the top of the stalk, and cellulose was slightly overproduced in a disorganized fashion. A similar though less severe phenotype occurred when a fusion of the N and C2 domains was expressed. In a double mutant, absence of SP85 was epistatic to NC1 expression, suggesting that NC1 inhibited SP85 function. Together, these results suggest the existence of an outside-in signaling pathway that constitutes a checkpoint to ensure that cellulose synthesis does not occur until coat proteins are properly organized at the cell surface and stalk formation is complete. Checkpoint execution is proposed to be regulated by SP85, which is in turn under the influence of other coat proteins that interact with SP85 via its C1 and C2 domains.