Loss-of-function mutations in Star impart a dominant rough eye phenotype and, when homozygous, are embryonic lethal with ventrolateral cuticular defects. We have cloned the Star gene and show that it encodes a novel protein with a putative transmembrane domain. Star transcript is expressed in a dynamic pattern in the embryo including in cells of the ventral midline. In the larval eye disc, Star is expressed first at the morphogenetic furrow, then in the developing R2, R5, and R8 cells as well as in the posterior clusters of the disc in additional R cells. Star interacts with Drosophila EGF receptor in the eye and mosaic analysis of Star in the larval eye disc reveals that homozygous Star patches contain no developing R cells. Taken together with the expression pattern at the morphogenetic furrow, these results demonstrate an early role for Star in photoreceptor development. Additionally, loss-of-function mutations in Star act as suppressors of R7 development in a sensitized genetic background involving the Son of sevenless (Sos) locus, and overexpression of Star enhances R7 development in this genetic background. Based on the genetic interactions with Sos, we suggest that Star also has a later role in photoreceptor development including the recruitment of the R7 cell through the sevenless pathway.