Dendrites are the fundamental determinant of neuronal wiring. Consequently dendritic defects are associated with numerous neurological diseases and mental retardation. Neuronal activity can have profound effects on dendritic structure, but the mechanisms controlling distinct aspects of dendritic architecture are not fully understood. We use the Drosophila genetic model system to test the effects of altered intrinsic excitability on postembryonic dendritic architecture development. Targeted dominant negative knock-downs of potassium channel subunits allow for selectively increasing the intrinsic excitability of a selected subset of motoneurons, whereas targeted expression of a genetically modified noninactivating potassium channel decrease intrinsic excitability in vivo. Both manipulations cause significant dendritic overgrowth, but by different mechanisms. Increased excitability causes increased dendritic branch formation, whereas decreased excitability causes increased dendritic branch elongation. Therefore dendritic branching and branch elongation are controlled by separate mechanisms that can be addressed selectively in vivo by different manipulations of neuronal intrinsic excitability.