The telencephalon, at the rostral end of the developing central nervous system, starts off as a sheet of neuroepithelial cells. During development, this sheet of cells becomes patterned and morphologically partitioned into areas that give rise to the adult cerebral hemispheres. How does this happen? How are telencephalic precursor cells instructed to generate myriad neural cell types in different areas and at different times as well as to change their rates of cell proliferation, differentiation, and death? The molecular pathways required for patterning the telencephalic neuroepithelium and forming the cerebral hemispheres are beginning to be unraveled.