The Notch gene of Drosophila plays an important role in cell fate specification throughout development. The Notch protein contains a large extracellular domain of 36 EGF-like repeats as well as 3 Notch/lin-12 repeats and an intracellular domain with 6 cdc10/ankyrin repeats, motifs which are highly conserved in several vertebrate Notch homologues [1-7]. In this review we summarize the results of two recent studies which attempt to establish structure-function relationships of the various domains of the Notch gene product [8, 9]. The functions of various structural domains of the Notch protein in vivo were investigated using a series of deletion mutants which have been ectopically expressed either under the hsp70 heat-shock promoter or under the sevenless eye-specific promoter. Truncation of the extracellular domain of Drosophila Notch produces an activated receptor as judged by its ability to cause phenotypes matching those of gain-of-function alleles or duplications of the Notch locus . Equivalent truncations of vertebrate Notch-related proteins have been associated with malignant neoplasms and other developmental abnormalities [3, 6, 10, 11]. In contrast, dominant negative phenotypes result from overexpression of a protein lacking most intracellular sequences. These results were extended by an analysis of activated Notch function at single-cell resolution in the Drosophila compound eye . It was shown that while overexpression of full-length Notch in defined cell types has no apparent effects, overexpression of activated Notch in the same cells transiently blocks their proper cell-fate commitment, causing them to either adopt incorrect cell fates or to differentiate incompletely. Moreover, an activated Notch protein lacking the transmembrane domain is translocated to the nucleus, raising the possibility that Notch may participate directly in nuclear events.