Cilia-associated human genetic disorders are striking in the diversity of their abnormalities and their complex inheritance. Inactivation of the retrograde ciliary motor by mutations in DYNC2H1 causes skeletal dysplasias that have strongly variable expressivity. Here we define previously unknown genetic relationships between Dync2h1 and other genes required for ciliary trafficking. Mutations in mouse Dync2h1 disrupt cilia structure, block Sonic hedgehog signaling and cause midgestation lethality. Heterozygosity for Ift172, a gene required for anterograde ciliary trafficking, suppresses cilia phenotypes, Sonic hedgehog signaling defects and early lethality of Dync2h1 homozygotes. Ift122, like Dync2h1, is required for retrograde ciliary trafficking, but reduction of Ift122 gene dosage also suppresses the Dync2h1 phenotype. These genetic interactions illustrate the cell biology underlying ciliopathies and argue that mutations in intraflagellar transport genes cause their phenotypes because of their roles in cilia architecture rather than direct roles in signaling.