Sex determination is the commitment of an embryo to either the female or the male developmental pathway. The ratio of X chromosomes to sets of autosomes is the primary genetic signal that determines sex in Drosophila, by triggering the functional state of the gene Sex-lethal: in females (2X;2A) Sxl will be ON, whereas in males (X;2A) Sxl will be OFF. Genetic and molecular studies have defined a set of genes involved in the formation of the X:A signal, as well as other genes, with either maternal or zygotic effects, which are also involved in regulating the initial step of Sex-lethal activation. We review these data and present new data on two more regions of the X chromosome that define other genes needed for Sxl activation. In addition, we report on the interaction between some of the genes regulating Sxl activation.