The root hair of Arabidopsis has become a model system for investigations of the patterning and morphogenesis of cells in plants. A cascade of transcriptional regulators controls the pattern of cellular differentiation. Recently, one of the genes that plays a specific role in cellular differentiation in roots, WEREWOLF, has been shown to be functionally equivalent to GLABRA1, which functions only in the shoot. The cloning of genes defined by mutants with defective root-hair growth has provided insights into the roles of the cell wall, ion transport and the cytoskeleton during hair growth. Genetic analyses continue to identify mutants that will be instructive in furthering our understanding of the growth and development of root-hair cells.