Both dramatic and subtle morphogenetic movements are of paramount importance in molding cells and tissues into functional form. Cells move either independently or as populations and the distance traversed by cells varies greatly, but in all cases, the output is common: to organize cells into or within organs and epithelia. In the developing Drosophila eye, a highly specialized, 90 degrees rotational movement of subsets of cells imposes order by polarizing the retinal epithelium across its dorsoventral axis. This process was proposed to take place in two 45 degrees steps, with the second under control of the gene nemo (nmo), a serine/threonine kinase. While our analysis confirms that these subsets of cells, the ommatidial precursors, do stall at 45 degrees , we demonstrate that nmo is also required through most of the first 45 degrees of rotation to regulate the speed at which the ommatidial precursors move. In addition, although the precursors reach only the halfway point by the end of larval life, this work demonstrates that patterning events that occur during pupal life move the ommatidial units an additional 15 degrees . A re-analysis of nmo mosaic clones indicates that nmo is required in photoreceptors R1, R6 and R7 for normal orientation. This work also demonstrates that two major isoforms of nmo rescue the nmo(P1) phenotype. Finally, a dominant modifier screen of a nmo misexpression background identified genomic regions that potentially regulate rotation. The results presented here suggest a model in which a motor for rotation is established in a nemo-dependent fashion in a subset of cells.