Twofold differences in gene expression levels can be vital for an organism. This is beautifully illustrated by the process of 'dosage compensation' in Drosophila, which doubles transcription from the single male X chromosome to equal the mRNA levels originating from the two X chromosomes in female cells. Failure of the process leads to male-specific lethality. A number of recent publications have furthered our understanding of the ribonucleoprotein complex, which mediates dosage compensation and how it targets the male X chromosome. Deciphering the principles of X chromosome recognition and the nature of the chromatin configuration, that allows fine-tuning of transcription, remain the most interesting challenges.