At the end of development, organs acquire functionality, thereby ensuring autonomy of an organism when it separates from its mother or a protective egg. In insects, respiratory competence starts when the tracheal system fills with gas just before hatching of the juvenile animal. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of this process are not fully understood. Analyses of the phenotype of Drosophila embryos with malformed muscles revealed that they fail to gas-fill their tracheal system. Indeed, we show that major regulators of muscle formation like Lame duck and Blown fuse are important, while factors involved in the development of subsets of muscles including cardiac and visceral muscles are dispensable for this process, suggesting that somatic muscles (or parts of them) are essential to enable tracheal terminal differentiation. Based on our phenotypic data, we assume that somatic muscle defect severity correlates with the penetrance of the gas-filling phenotype. This argues that a limiting molecular or mechanical muscle-borne signal tunes tracheal differentiation. We think that in analogy to the function of smooth muscles in vertebrate lungs, a balance of physical forces between muscles and the elasticity of tracheal walls may be decisive for tracheal terminal differentiation in Drosophila.