Widespread cell migrations are the hallmark of vertebrate brain development. In the early embryo, morphogenetic movements of precursor cells establish the rhombomeres of the hindbrain, the external germinal layer of the cerebellum, and the regional boundaries of the forebrain. In midgestation, after primary neurogenesis in compact ventricular zones has commenced, individual postmitotic cells undergo directed migrations along the glial fiber system. Radial migrations establish the neuronal layers. Three molecules have been shown to function in glial guided migration--astrotactin, glial growth factor, and erbB. In the postnatal period, a wave of secondary neurogenesis produces huge numbers of interneurons destined for the cerebellar cortex, the hippocampal formation, and the olfactory bulb. Molecular analysis of the genes that mark stages of secondary neurogenesis show similar expression patterns of a number of genes. Thus these three regions may have genetic pathways in common. Finally, we consider emerging studies on neurological mutant mice, such as reeler, and human brain malformations. Positional cloning and identification of mutated genes has led to new insights on laminar patterning in brain.