The Drosophila leg imaginal disc provides a paradigm with which to understand the fundamental developmental mechanisms that generate an intricate appendage structure. Leg formation depends on the subdivision of the leg proximodistal (PD) axis into broad domains by the leg gap genes. The leg gap genes act combinatorially to initiate the expression of the Notch ligands Delta (Dl) and Serrate (Ser) in a segmental pattern. Dl and Ser induce the expression of a set of transcriptional regulators along the segment border, which mediate leg segment growth and joint morphogenesis. Here we show that Lines accumulates in nuclei in the presumptive tarsus and the inter-joints of proximal leg segments and governs the formation of these structures by destabilizing the nuclear protein Bowl. Across the presumptive tarsus, lines modulates the opposing expression landscapes of the leg gap gene dachshund (dac) and the tarsal PD genes, bric-a-brac 2 (bab), apterous (ap) and BarH1 (Bar). In this manner, lines inhibits proximal tarsal fates and promotes medial and distal tarsal fates. Across proximal leg segments, lines antagonizes bowl to promote Dl expression by relief-of-repression. In turn, Dl signals asymmetrically to stabilize Bowl in adjacent distal cells. Bowl, then, acts cell-autonomously, together with one or more redundant factors, to repress Dl expression. Together, lines and bowl act as a binary switch to generate a stable Notch signaling interface between Dl-expressing cells and adjacent distal cell. lines plays analogous roles in developing antennae, which are serially homologous to legs, suggesting evolutionarily conserved roles for lines in ventral appendage formation.