Neurogenic mutations have been found to cause the neuralization of certain regions of the ectoderm and yet to permit normal development of the remaining embryonic cells. Thus, it seems that the activity of the wild-type alleles of these genes is dispensable in a considerable fraction of the embryo during wild-type development. This effect might be a consequence of the cells' position within the embryo; alternatively, it might be independent of the position but be due rather to the genetic activity experienced by the cells previous to their commitment. The results described in this paper indicate that genes controlling patterning along the embryonic dorso-ventral perimeter (dorsal and Toll) are epistatic to genes controlling neurogenesis, their activity deciding which ectodermal cells are susceptible to neurogenesis. Using alleles with low expressivity, evidence was obtained showing that the tracheal placodes define the boundary of the territory which has neurogenic abilities at thoracic and abdominal levels.