Neurons are highly polarized cells with some regions specified for information input--typically the dendrites--and others specialized for information output--the axons. By extending to a specific location and branching in a specific manner, the processes of neurons determine at a fundamental level how the nervous system is wired to produce behavior. Recent studies suggest that relatively small changes in neuronal morphology could conceivably contribute to striking behavioral distinctions between invertebrate species. We review recent data that begin to shed light on how neurons extend dendrites to their targets and acquire their particular branching morphologies, drawing primarily on data from genetic model organisms. We speculate about how and why the actions of these genes might facilitate the diversification of dendritic morphology.