Emx1 and Emx2, mouse orthologs of the Drosophila head gap gene, ems, are expressed during corticogenesis. Emx2 null mutants exhibit mild defects in cortical lamination. Segregation of differentiating neurons from proliferative cells is normal for the most part, however, reelin-positive Cajal-Retzius cells are lost by the late embryonic period. Additionally, late-born cortical plate neurons display abnormal position. These types of lamination defects are subtle in the Emx1 mutant cortex. In the present study we show that Emx1 and Emx2 double mutant neocortex is much more severely affected. Thickness of the cerebral wall was diminished with the decrease in cell number. Bromodeoxyuridine uptake in the germinal zone was nearly normal; moreover, no apparent increase in cell death or tetraploid cell number was observed. However, tangential migration of cells from the ganglionic eminence into the neocortex was greatly inhibited. The wild-type ganglionic eminence cells transplanted into Emx1/2-double mutant telencephalon did not move to the cortex. MAP2-positive neuronal bodies and RC2-positive radial glial cells emerged normally, but the laminar structure subsequently formed was completely abnormal. Furthermore, both corticofugal and corticopetal fibers were predominantly absent in the cortex. Most importantly, neither Cajal-Retzius cells nor subplate neurons were found throughout E11.5-E18.5. Thus, this investigation suggests that laminar organization in the cortex or the production of Cajal-Retzius cells and subplate neurons is interrelated to the tangential movement of cells from the ganglionic eminence under the control of Emx1 and Emx2.