Eukaryotic gene expression is activated by factors that interact within complex machinery to initiate transcription. An important component of this machinery is the DNA repair/transcription factor TFIIH. Mutations in TFIIH result in three human syndromes: xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne syndrome and trichothiodystrophy. Transcription and DNA repair defects have been linked to some clinical features of these syndromes. However, how mutations in TFIIH affect specific developmental programmes, allowing organisms to develop with particular phenotypes, is not well understood. Here, we show that mutations in the p52 and p8 subunits of TFIIH have a moderate effect on the gene expression programme in the Drosophila testis, causing germ cell differentiation arrest in meiosis, but no Polycomb enrichment at the promoter of the affected differentiation genes, supporting recent data that disagree with the current Polycomb-mediated repression model for regulating gene expression in the testis. Moreover, we found that TFIIH stability is not compromised in p8 subunit-depleted testes that show transcriptional defects, highlighting the role of p8 in transcription. Therefore, this study reveals how defects in TFIIH affect a specific cell differentiation programme and contributes to understanding the specific syndrome manifestations in TFIIH-afflicted patients.