Chromatin remodeling in plants has usually been discussed in relation to aspects of genome defense such as transgene silencing and the resetting of transposon activity. The role of remodeling in controlling development has been less emphasized, although well established in animal systems. This is because cell fate in plants is often held to be entirely specified on the basis of position, apparently excluding any significant role for cell ancestry and chromatin remodeling. We argue that chromatin remodeling is used to confer mitotically heritable cell fates at late stages in pattern formation. Several examples in which chromatin remodeling factors are used to confer a memory of transient events in plant development are discussed. Because the precise biochemical functions of most remodeling factors are obscure, and little is known of plant chromatin structure, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood.