Like in vertebrates, Drosophila haematopoiesis occurs in two waves. It gives rise to three types of haemocytes: plasmatocytes (phagocytosis), crystal cells (melanization) and lamellocytes (encapsulation of parasites). A first population of haemocytes, specified during embryogenesis, gives rise to an invariant number of plasmatocytes and crystal cells. A second population of haemocytes is specified during larval development in a specialized haematopoietic organ, the lymph gland. All three types of haemocytes can be specified in this organ, but lamellocytes only differentiate in response to parasitism. Thus, larval in contrast to embryonic haematopoiesis can be modulated by physiological constraints. Molecular cascades controlling embryonic haematopoiesis are relatively well established and require transactivators such as GATA, FOG and Runx factors, which are also co-opted in mammalian haematopoiesis. Mechanisms involved during larval haematopoiesis are less well understood although a number of chromatin remodelling factors and signalling pathways (JAK/STAT, Toll, Hedgehog, Notch) are required. In healthy larvae a pool of progenitors is maintained within the lymph gland, under the control of a signalling centre which expresses Collier, Serrate, Antennapedia and Hedgehog, and controls haemocyte homeostasis. Its key role in haemocyte homeostasis is reminiscent of interactions described in vertebrates between haematopoietic stem cells and their microenvironment (niche).