Using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies as differentiation markers, we have found that the eight photoreceptors of the Drosophila ommatidium differentiate in a fixed sequence. The foundation photoreceptor, R8, expresses neural antigens first. The paired photoreceptors R2/5 are next to express, followed by the pair R3/4, followed by the pair R1/6; R7 is the final photoreceptor to differentiate. From previous studies it is known that Drosophila photoreceptors use local, positional cues to select their identities. Together with the morphological picture of ommatidial development, the sequential order of photoreceptor differentiation demonstrated here suggests that these cues may be encoded in the particular combination of cells an undetermined cell finds itself in contact with.