The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is not categorized as a laboratory animal, but it is recognised as one of the most important model organisms for basic biology, life science, and biomedical research. This tiny fly continues to occupy a core place in genetics and genomic approaches to studies of biology and medicine. The basic principles of genetics, including the variations of phenotypes, mutations, genetic linkage, meiotic chromosome segregation, chromosome aberrations, recombination, and precise mapping of genes by genetic as well as cytological means, were all derived from studies of Drosophila. Recombinant DNA technology was developed in the 1970s and Drosophila DNA was the first among multicellular organisms to be cloned. It provided a detailed characterization of genes in combination of classical cytogenetic data. Drosophila thus became the pioneering model organism for various fields of life science research into multicellular organisms. Here, I briefly describe the history of Drosophila research and provide a few examples of the application of the abundant genetic resources of Drosophila to basic biology and medical investigations. A Japanese national project, the National BioResource Project (NBRP) for collection, maintainance, and provision of Drosophila resources, that is well known and admired by researchers in other countries as an important project, is also briefly described.