Histone variants play important roles in eukaryotic genome organization, the control of gene expression, cell division and DNA repair. Unlike other organisms that employ several H2A variants for different functions, the parsimonious fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster gets along with just a single H2A variant, H2A.V. Remarkably, H2A.V unites within one molecule features and functions of two different mammalian H2A variants, H2A.Z and H2A.X. Accordingly, H2A.V is involved in diverse functions, as an element of a class of active promoter structure, as a foundation for heterochromatin assembly and as a DNA damage sensor. Here, we comprehensively review the current knowledge of this fascinating histone variant.