In addition to its function in embryonic development, the NF-kappa B/rel-related gene dorsal (dl) of Drosophila is expressed in larval and adult fat body where its RNA expression is enhanced upon injury. Injury also leads to a rapid nuclear translocation of dl from the cytoplasm in fat body cells. Here we present data which strongly suggest that the nuclear localization of dl during the immune response is controlled by the Toll signaling pathway, comprising gene products that participate in the intracellular part of the embryonic dorsoventral pathway. We also report that in mutants such as Toll or cactus, which exhibit melanotic tumor phenotypes, dl is constitutively nuclear. Together, these results point to a potential link between the Toll signaling pathway and melanotic tumor induction. Although dl has been shown previously to bind to kappa B-related motifs within the promoter of the antibacterial peptide coding gene diptericin, we find that injury-induced expression of diptericin can occur in the absence of dl. Furthermore, the melanotic tumor phenotype of Toll and cactus is not dl dependent. These data underline the complexity of the Drosophila immune response. Finally, we observed that like other rel proteins, dl can control the level of its own transcription.