In a screen for mutations affecting Drosophila eye development, we have identified a gene called fat facets (faf) which is required for cell interactions that prevent particular cells in the developing eye from becoming photoreceptors. Analysis of eyes mosaic for faf+ and faf- cells shows that faf is required in cells near to, but outside, normal developing photoreceptors and also outside of the ectopic photoreceptors in mutant facets. faf is also essential during oogenesis, and we show that a faf-lacZ hybrid protein is localized via the first 392 amino acids of faf to the posterior pole of oocytes. Posterior localization of faf-lacZ depends on oskar. oskar encodes a key organizer of the pole plasm, a specialized cytoplasm at the posterior pole of embryos. The pole plasm is required for germ cell formation and contains the determinant of posterior polarity, encoded by nanos. Although other pole plasm components are required for localization of nanos RNA or for nanos protein function, faf is not. We have cloned the faf gene, and have shown that it encodes two similar large (approximately 300 x 10(3) M(r)) proteins that are unique with respect to other known proteins.