In Drosophila melanogaster, chromosome rearrangements that juxtapose euchromatin and heterochromatin can result in position effect variegation (PEV), the variable expression of heterochromatic and euchromatic genes in the vicinity of the novel breakpoint. We examined PEV of the heterochromatic light (lt) and concertina (cta) genes in order to investigate potential tissue or developmental differences in chromosome structure that might be informative for comparing the mechanisms of PEV of heterochromatic and euchromatic genes. We employed tissue pigmentation and in situ hybridization to RNA to assess expression of lt in individual cells of multiple tissues during development. Variegation of lt was induced in the adult eye, larval salivary glands and larval Malpighian tubules for each of three different chromosome rearrangements. The relative severity of the effect in these tissues was not tissue-specific but rather was characteristic of each rearrangement. Surprisingly, larval imaginal discs did not exhibit variegated lt expression. Instead, a uniform reduction of the lt transcript was observed, which correlated in magnitude with the degree of variegation. The same results were obtained for cta expression. These two distinct effects of rearrangements on heterochromatic gene expression correlated with the developmental stage of the tissue. These results have implications for models of heterochromatin formation and the nuclear organization of chromosomes during development and differentiation.