The Drosophila DNAprim gene encodes the large subunit (60 kD) of DNA primase, the part of DNA polymerase alpha that synthesizes RNA primers during DNA replication. The precise function of the 60-kD subunit is unknown. In a mutagenesis screen for suppressors of the fat facets (faf) mutant eye phenotype, we identified mutations in DNAprim. The faf gene encodes a deubiquitinating enzyme required specifically for patterning the compound eye. The DNA sequences of four DNAprim alleles were determined and these define essential protein domains. We show that while flies lacking DNAprim activity are lethal, flies with reduced DNAprim activity display morphological defects in their eyes, and unlike faf mutants, cell cycle abnormalities in larval eye discs. Mechanisms by which DNA primase levels might influence the faf-dependent cell communication pathway are discussed.