In the Drosophila eye imaginal disc the photoreceptor cells (R cells) differentiate according to a precise spatial and temporal order. The sidekick (sdk) gene is necessary to prevent extra R cells from differentiating during eye disc development. The extra cell appears between R3 and R4 early in R cell clusters and is most likely the result of the mystery cell inappropriately differentiating as an R cell. Mosaic analysis shows that sdk is required neither in the R cells nor in the extra cell, suggesting that sdk is necessary in the surrounding undifferentiated cells. The sdk gene codes for a protein that is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, having six immunoglobulin domains, thirteen fibronectin repeats and a transmembrane domain. The protein structure is consistent with its participation in cell-cell interaction during eye development.