Wild-type Drosophila cells can remove cells heterozygous for ribosomal protein mutations (known as "Minute" mutant cells) from genetic mosaics, a process termed cell competition. The ribosomal protein S12 was unusual because cells heterozygous for rpS12 mutations were not competed by wild-type, and a viable missense mutation in rpS12 protected Minute cells from cell competition with wild-type cells. Furthermore, cells with Minute mutations were induced to compete with one another by altering the gene dose of rpS12, eliminating cells with more rpS12 than their neighbors. Thus RpS12 has a special function in cell competition that defines the competitiveness of cells. We propose that cell competition between wild-type and Minute cells is initiated by a signal of ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency mediated by RpS12. Since competition between cells expressing different levels of Myc did not require RpS12, other kinds of cell competition may be initiated differently.