The role of homologues in the establishment of the pattern of axonal projections of identified segmentally homologous neurons was investigated by means of selective cell ablation and dye injection. The cells studied were the bilateral pairs of heart accessory (HA) neurons found in the fifth and sixth segmental ganglia of the leech ventral nerve cord. Homologues start their morphological differentiation with identical axonal projections, and segmental differences are manifested later, when specific branches stop growing and disappear. The deletion of single HA cells at early stages, however, permits these branches to survive in their ipsilateral homologues and to grow and take over the projections of the deleted neurons. In addition, if both HA homologues on the same side of the nerve cord, or three of the four HA cells, are deleted in an animal, the remaining HA cells often extend novel projections. These observations suggest that either competition for targets, inputs or growth factors, or direct interactions among homologous cells may play a role in the differentiation of segment specific patterns of axonal projections.