Although many of the genes that pattern the segmented body plan of the Drosophila embryo are known, there remains much to learn in terms of how these genes and their products interact with one another. Like many of these gene products, the protein encoded by the pair-rule gene odd-skipped (Odd) is a DNA-binding transcription factor. Genetic experiments have suggested several candidate target genes for Odd, all of which appear to be negatively regulated. Here we use pulses of ectopic Odd expression to test the response of these and other segmentation genes. The results are complex, indicating that Odd is capable of repressing some genes wherever and whenever Odd is expressed, while the ability to repress others is temporally or spatially restricted. Moreover, one target gene, fushi tarazu, is both repressed and activated by Odd, the outcome depending upon the stage of development. These results indicate that the activity of Odd is highly dependent upon the presence of cofactors and/or overriding inhibitors. Based on these results, and the segmental phenotypes generated by ectopic Odd, we suggest a number of new roles for Odd in the patterning of embryonic segments. These include gap-, pair-rule- and segment polarity-type functions.