The Drosophila apterous gene encodes a LIM homeodomain protein expressed embryonically in a small subset of differentiating neurons. To establish the identity of these neurons and to study the role of apterous in their development, we made apterous promoter fusions to an axon-targeted reporter gene. We found that all apterous-expressing neurons are interneurons that choose a single pathway within the developing central nervous system. In apterous mutants, these neurons choose incorrect pathways and fail to fasciculate with one another. Our results indicate that apterous functions to control neuronal pathway selection and suggest that other vertebrate and invertebrate members of the LIM homeodomain class of proteins may serve similar functions.

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