The Drosophila expanded (ex) gene encodes a protein thought to play a role in signaling at apical junctions of epithelial cells. Previous studies have characterized this gene as a tumor suppressor involved in regulating the growth of a subset of Drosophila imaginal discs (Boedigheimer, M., Laughon, A., 1993. expanded: a gene involved in the control of cell proliferation in imaginal discs, Development 118, 1291-1301); although ex negatively regulates cell proliferation in the developing wing, it appeared to have a conflicting role in the eye. In contrast, our analysis of the loss-of-function phenotype indicates that ex does, in fact, regulate growth in the eye. We also show that this gene plays a role in patterning of the eye, mainly at the level of planar polarity. Our studies further demonstrate that, contrary to what was expected based on loss-of-function data, the tissue reduction phenotypes resulting from Ex overexpression are attributable to the induction of apoptotic cell death. Taken together, our data suggest that Ex is a versatile molecule that plays a role in most of the processes that govern disc development.