Detailed molecular and genetic studies, coupled with the recent sequencing of the fly genome, have identified eight Ets-related genes in the model organism Drosophila. All show homology to genes in vertebrate species. Functional analyses of some of the Drosophila ets genes have revealed their essential roles in developmental processes such as metamorphosis, oogenesis, neurogenesis, myogenesis, and eye development. Such studies have yielded important insights into our understanding of the genetic control of hormonally-regulated gene expression, programmed cell death, and signal transduction during cell fate determination and differentiation. The developmental roles of E74 (ELF1), pointed (Ets 1), yan (TEL), and D-elg (GABPalpha) will be reviewed in this article. The context of their participation in signal transduction and gene regulation will also be discussed. The information should be of significant value to the study of related processes in higher organisms due to the growing evidence for the cross species conservation of developmental mechanisms.