Here we report the discovery and characterization of the Drosophila tartan gene. tartan is transcribed in an unusual embryonic pattern of intersecting stripes which are generated in response to the anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral regulatory systems. tartan encodes a putative transmembrane protein containing extracellular leucine-rich repeats characteristic of numerous cell surface receptors and adhesion proteins. Its expression is correlated with aspects of segmentation and neurogenesis, including the formation of neuroblasts, sensory mother cells, and peripheral nerves. Mutants homozygous for a recessive lethal tartan loss-function allele exhibit defects in the position and number of cells within peripheral sense organs, the routing of peripheral nerves, and the organization of commissures within the central nervous system. Mutants are also defective in muscle organization. These results suggest that tartan is required for cell surface interactions important for normal organization of epidermal and subepidermal structures.