Shoots are characterized by indeterminate growth resulting from divisions of undifferentiated cells in the central region of the shoot apical meristem. These cells give rise to peripheral derivatives from which lateral organ initials are recruited. During initial stages of cell recruitment, the three-dimensional form of lateral organs is specified. Lateral organs such as leaves develop and differentiate along proximodistal (base-to-tip), dorsoventral (top-to bottom) and mediolateral (middle-to-margin) planes. Current findings are refining our knowledge of the genes and genetic interactions that regulate these early processes and are providing a picture of how these pathways may contribute to variation in leaf form.