Our analysis demonstrates that snf is a positive regulator of Sex-lethal in both the germline and the soma. In the germline, unregulated expression of Sex-lethal can bypass the requirement for snf+ gene function, implying that snf is required for Sex-lethal activity in the germline. This conclusion is supported by the finding that the Sex-lethal transcription pattern is abnormal in a snf mutant background. In the soma, activation of Sex-lethal appears to be sensitive to snf gene dosage only when the probability of Sex-lethal activation has been otherwise reduced. We also show that the activity of one of the constitutive Sex-lethal alleles (SxlM1) is sensitive to snf gene dosage, demonstrating that, in spite of its constitutive behavior in some assays, SxlM1 is still subject to some regulation. In spite of snf's role in the somatic activation of Sex-lethal, no lethal alleles of snf were isolated in a screen of approximately 25,000 chromosomes. The observation that the existing snf mutations present a lethal phenotype only in certain genetic backgrounds suggests that snf is required, but is not essential, for the activation of Sex-lethal in the soma. In contrast, snf does appear to be essential for activation of Sex-lethal in the germline, as evidenced by its female-sterile phenotype.