During eye development, the selector factors of the Eyeless/Pax6 or Retinal Determination (RD) network control specification of organ-type whereas the bHLH-type proneural factor Atonal drives neurogenesis. Although significant progress has been made in dissecting the acquisition of ;eye identity' at the transcriptional level, the molecular mechanisms underlying the progression from neuronal progenitor to differentiating neuron remain unclear. A recently proposed model for the integration of organ specification and neurogenesis hypothesizes that atonal expression in the eye is RD-network-independent and that Eyeless works in parallel or downstream of atonal to modify the neurogenetic program. We show here that distinct cis-regulatory elements control atonal expression specifically in the eye and that the RD factors Eyeless and Sine oculis function as direct regulators. We find that these transcription factors interact in vitro and provide indirect evidence that this interaction may be required in vivo. The subordination of neurogenesis to the RD pathway in the eye provides a direct mechanism for the coordination of neurogenesis and tissue specification during sensory organ formation.