Abstract Tube formation is a ubiquitous process required to sustain life in multicellular organisms. The tubular organs of adult mammals include the lungs, vasculature, digestive and excretory systems, as well as secretory organs such as the pancreas, salivary, prostate, and mammary glands. Other tissues, including the embryonic heart and neural tube, have requisite stages of tubular organization early in development. To learn the molecular and cellular basis of how epithelial cells are organized into tubular organs of various shapes and sizes, investigators have focused on the Drosophila trachea and salivary gland as model genetic systems for branched and unbranched tubes, respectively. Both organs begin as polarized epithelial placodes, which through coordinated cell shape changes, cell rearrangement, and cell migration form elongated tubes. Here, we discuss what has been discovered regarding the details of cell fate specification and tube formation in the two organs; these discoveries reveal significant conservation in the cellular and molecular events of tubulogenesis.