We show that fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and FGF receptors are transiently expressed by cells of the pseudostratified ventricular epithelium (PVE) during early neurogenesis. A single microinjection of FGF2 into cerebral ventricles of rat embryos at E15.5 increased the volume and total number of neurons in the adult cerebral cortex by 18% and 87%, respectively. Microinjection of FGF2 by the end of neurogenesis, at E20.5, selectively increased the number of glia. Mice lacking the FGF2 gene had fewer cortical neurons and glia at maturity. BrdU studies in FGF2-microinjected and FGF2-null animals suggested that FGF2 increases the proportion of dividing cells in the PVE without affecting the cell-cycle length. Thus, FGF2 increases the number of rounds of division of cortical progenitors.