Layer formation in the developing cerebral cortex requires the movement of neurons from their site of origin to their final laminar position. We demonstrate, using time-lapse imaging of acute cortical slices, that two distinct forms of cell movement, locomotion and somal translocation, are responsible for the radial migration of cortical neurons. These modes are distinguished by their dynamic properties and morphological features. Locomotion and translocation are not cell-type specific; although at early ages some cells may move by translocation only, locomoting cells also translocate once their leading process reaches the marginal zone. The existence of two modes of radial migration may account for the differential effects of certain genetic mutations on cortical development.