The protein spectrin is ubiquitous in animal cells and is believed to play important roles in cell shape and membrane stability, cell polarity, and endomembrane traffic. Experiments here were undertaken to identify sites of essential beta spectrin function in Drosophila and to determine whether spectrin and ankyrin function are strictly linked to one another. The Gal4-UAS system was used to drive tissue-specific overexpression of a beta spectrin transgene or to knock down beta spectrin expression with dsRNA. The results show that 1) overexpression of beta spectrin in most of the cell types studied was lethal; 2) knockdown of beta spectrin in most tissues had no detectable effect on growth or viability of the organism; and 3) nervous system-specific expression of a UAS-beta spectrin transgene was sufficient to overcome the lethality of a loss-of-function beta spectrin mutation. Thus beta spectrin expression in other cells was not required for development of fertile adult males, although females lacking nonneuronal spectrin were sterile. Previous data indicated that binding of the DAnk1 isoform of ankyrin to spectrin was partially dispensable for viability. Domain swap experiments here uncovered a different requirement for neuronal DAnk2 binding to spectrin and establish that DAnk2-binding is critical for beta spectrin function in vivo.