Throughout the last century, studies using the fruit fly have contributed to the discovery of many key genetic elements that control animal development. Recent work has shed light on an unexpectedly large number of RNAs that lack the classical hallmarks of protein-coding genes and are thus referred to as noncoding RNAs. However, there is mounting evidence that both mRNA and noncoding RNAs often contain small open reading frames (sORFs/smORFs), which can be translated into peptides. While genome-wide profiling supports a pervasive translation of these noncanonical sORF/smORF/SEP peptides, their functions remain poorly understood. Here, we review recent data obtained in Drosophila demonstrating the overlooked role of smORF peptides in the control of development and adult life. Focusing on a few smORF peptides whose functions have been elucidated recently, we discuss the importance of these newly identified regulatory molecules and how they act to regulate the building and function of the whole organism.