The Drosophila Fat facets protein is a deubiquitinating enzyme required for patterning the developing compound eye. Ubiquitin, a 76-amino-acid polypeptide, serves as a tag to direct proteins to the proteasome, a protein degradation complex. Deubiquitinating enzymes are a large group of proteins that cleave ubiquitin-protein bonds. Fat facets belongs to a class of deubiquitinating enzymes called Ubps that share a conserved catalytic domain. Fat facets is unique among them in its large size and also because Fat facets is thought to deubiquitinate a specific substrate thereby preventing its proteolysis. Here we asked which portions of the Fat facets protein are essential for its function. P-element constructs that express partial Fat facets proteins were tested for function. In addition, the DNA sequences of 12 mutant fat facets alleles were determined. Finally, regions of amino acid sequence similarity in 18 Drosophila Ubps revealed by the Genome Project were identified. The results indicate functions for specific conserved amino acids in the catalytic region of Fat facets and also indicate that regions of the protein both N- and C-terminal to the catalytic region are required for Fat facets function.