Polarization is a feature common to many cell types. Epithelial cells, for example, exhibit a characteristic apical-basolateral polarity that is critical for their function. In addition to this ubiquitous form of polarity, whole fields of cells are often polarized in a plane perpendicular to the apical-basal axis. This form of polarity, referred to as planar cell polarity (PCP), exists in all adult Drosophila cuticular tissues, as well as in numerous vertebrate tissues, including the mammalian skin and inner ear epithelia. Recent advances in the study of PCP establishment are beginning to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying this cellular process. This review discusses new developments in the molecular understanding of PCP in Drosophila and vertebrates and integrates the current data in a model to illustrate how interactions between PCP factors might function to generate planar polarity.