Summary: In mammalian skin, hair follicles develop at regular intervals and with site-specific morphologies. This process generates distinct patterns of hair, but the mechanisms that establish these patterns remain largely unknown. Here we present evidence of follicular patterning by ectodysplasin-A1 (Eda-A1), a signaling protein necessary for the proper development of hair and other appendages. In transgenic mice, Eda-A1 was targeted to the epithelial compartment of the developing skin. At periodic locations, multiple hair follicles were induced side by side, without any interfollicular space. These follicles grew into the dermis as a fusion and subsequently branched to create discrete stalks and hair bulbs. Thus, at sites where interfollicular skin normally forms, hair follicles developed instead. This result shows that Eda-A1 can regulate basic developmental decisions, as cells were switched from interfollicular to follicular fates. Given these effects, it is likely that Eda-A1 is among the key regulators of pattern formation in the skin. genesis 37:30–37, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.