Cell differentiation and cell fate determination in sensory systems are essential for stimulus discrimination and coding of environmental stimuli. Color vision is based on the differential color sensitivity of retinal photoreceptors, however the developmental programs that control photoreceptor cell differentiation and specify color sensitivity are poorly understood. In Drosophila melanogaster, there is evidence that the color sensitivity of different photoreceptors in the compound eye is regulated by inductive signals between cells, but the exact nature of these signals and how they are propagated remains unknown. We conducted a genetic screen to identify additional regulators of this process and identified a novel mutation in the hibris gene, which encodes an irre cell recognition module protein (IRM). These immunoglobulin super family cell adhesion molecules include human KIRREL and nephrin (NPHS1). hibris is expressed dynamically in the developing Drosophila melanogaster eye and loss-of-function mutations give rise to a diverse range of mutant phenotypes including disruption of the specification of R8 photoreceptor cell diversity. We demonstrate that hibris is required within the retina, and that hibris over-expression is sufficient to disrupt normal photoreceptor cell patterning. These findings suggest an additional layer of complexity in the signaling process that produces paired expression of opsin genes in adjacent R7 and R8 photoreceptor cells.