Eclosion hormone (EH) was originally identified as a brain-derived hormone capable of inducing the behavioral sequences required for molting across insect species. However, its role in this process (called ecdysis) has since been confounded by discrepancies in the effects of genetic and cellular manipulations of EH function in Drosophila. Although knock-out of the Eh gene results in severe ecdysis-associated deficits accompanied by nearly complete larval lethality, ablation of the only neurons known to express EH (i.e. Vm neurons) is only partially lethal and surviving adults emerge, albeit abnormally. Using new tools for sensitively detecting Eh gene expression, we show that EH is more widely expressed than previously thought, both within the nervous system and in somatic tissues, including trachea. Ablating all Eh-expressing cells has effects that closely match those of Eh gene knock-out; developmentally suppressing them severely disrupts eclosion. Our results thus clarify and extend the scope of EH action.