In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, both spermatogenesis and oogenesis rely on germ-line stem cells (GSCs). Intensive research has revealed many of the molecules and pathways that underlie GSC maintenance and differentiation in males and females. In this review, we discuss new studies that, some differences notwithstanding, highlight the similarities in the structural and molecular strategies used by the two sexes in GSC maintenance and differentiation. These include the tight control that somatic support cells exert on every aspect of GSC function and the similar molecular mechanisms for physical attachment, cell-cell signaling and gap-junction communication. Some common principles underlying GSC biology in the fly may be applied to stem cells in other organisms.