The Toll signaling pathway functions in several Drosophila processes, including dorsal-ventral pattern formation and the immune response. Here, we demonstrate that this pathway is required in the epidermis for proper muscle development. Previously, we showed that the zygotic Toll protein is necessary for normal muscle development; in the absence of zygotic Toll, close to 50% of hemisegments have muscle patterning defects consisting of missing, duplicated and misinserted muscle fibers (Halfon, M.S., Hashimoto, C., and Keshishian, H., Dev. Biol. 169, 151-167, 1995). We have now also analyzed the requirements for easter, spätzle, tube, and pelle, all of which function in the Toll-mediated dorsal-ventral patterning pathway. We find that spätzle, tube, and pelle, but not easter, are necessary for muscle development. Mutations in these genes give a phenotype identical to that seen in Toll mutants, suggesting that elements of the same pathway used for Toll signaling in dorsal-ventral development are used during muscle development. By expressing the Toll cDNA under the control of distinct Toll enhancer elements in Toll mutant flies, we have examined the spatial requirements for Toll expression during muscle development. Expression of Toll in a subset of epidermal cells that includes the epidermal muscle attachment cells, but not Toll expression in the musculature, is necessary for proper muscle development. Our results suggest that signals received by the epidermis early during muscle development are an important part of the muscle patterning process.