The Drosophila rhomboid (rho) and Egf-r genes are members of a small group of genes required for the differentiation of various specific embryonic and adult structures. During larval and early pupal development expression of rho in longitudinal vein primordia mediates the localized formation of wing veins. In this paper we investigate the genetic hierarchy guiding vein development, by testing for genetic interactions between rho alleles and a wide variety of wing vein mutations and by examining the pattern of rho expression in mutant developing wing primordia. We identify a small group of wing vein mutants that interact strongly with rho. Examination of rho expression in these and other key vein mutants reveals when vein development first becomes abnormal. Based on these data and on previous genetic analyses of vein formation we present a sequential model for establishment and differentiation of wing veins.