Dendrites exhibit enormous diversity in form and can differ in size by several orders of magnitude even in a single animal. However, whether neurons with large dendrite arbors have specialized mechanisms to support their growth demands is unknown. To address this question, we conducted a genetic screen for mutations that differentially affected growth in neurons with different-sized dendrite arbors. From this screen, we identified a mutant that selectively affects dendrite growth in neurons with large dendrite arbors without affecting dendrite growth in neurons with small dendrite arbors or the animal overall. This mutant disrupts a putative amino acid transporter, Pathetic (Path), that localizes to the cell surface and endolysosomal compartments in neurons. Although Path is broadly expressed in neurons and nonneuronal cells, mutation of path impinges on nutrient responses and protein homeostasis specifically in neurons with large dendrite arbors but not in other cells. Altogether, our results demonstrate that specialized molecular mechanisms exist to support growth demands in neurons with large dendrite arbors and define Path as a founding member of this growth program.