Homeobox genes play fundamental roles in development. They can be subdivided into several subfamilies, one of which is the LIM-homeobox subfamily. The primary structure of LIM-homeobox genes has been remarkably conserved through evolution. Have their functions similarly been conserved? A host of new data has been derived from mutational analysis in diverse organisms, such as nematodes, flies and vertebrates. These studies have revealed a prominent involvement of LIM-homeodomain proteins in tissue patterning and differentiation, and their function in neural patterning is evident in all organisms studied to date. Here, we summarize the recent findings on LIM-homeobox gene function, compare the function of these genes from different organisms and describe specific co-factor requirements.