Networks of epithelial and endothelial tubes are essential for the function of organs such as the lung, kidney and vascular system. The sizes and shapes of these tubes are highly regulated to match their individual functions. Defects in tube size can cause debilitating diseases such as polycystic kidney disease and ischaemia. It is therefore critical to understand how tube dimensions are regulated. Here we identify the tyrosine kinase Src as an instructive regulator of epithelial-tube length in the Drosophila tracheal system. Loss-of-function Src42 mutations shorten tracheal tubes, whereas Src42 overexpression elongates them. Surprisingly, Src42 acts distinctly from known tube-size pathways and regulates both the amount of apical surface growth and, with the conserved formin dDaam, the direction of growth. Quantitative three-dimensional image analysis reveals that Src42- and dDaam-mutant tracheal cells expand more in the circumferential than the axial dimension, resulting in tubes that are shorter in length—but larger in diameter—than wild-type tubes. Thus, Src42 and dDaam control tube dimensions by regulating the direction of anisotropic growth, a mechanism that has not previously been described.