Glial cells constitute the second component of the nervous system and are important during neuronal development. In this paper we describe a gene, glial cell deficient, (glide), that is necessary for glial cell fate commitment in Drosophila melanogaster. Mutations at the glide locus prevent glial cell determination in the embryonic central and peripheral nervous system. Moreover, we show that the absence of glial cells is the consequence of a cell fate switch from glia to neurones. This suggests the existence of a multipotent precursor cells in the nervous system. glide mutants also display defects in axonal navigation, which confirms and extends previous results indicating a role for glial cells in these processes.