Cortical patterns of gene expression provide a new approach to long standing issues of lamination, and area identity and formation. In this review, we summarize recent findings where molecular biological techniques have revealed a small number of area-specific genes in the nonhuman primate cortex. One of these (occ1) is strongly expressed in primary visual cortex and is associated with thalamocortical connections. Another gene, RBP, is more strongly expressed in association areas. It is not clear whether RBP might be linked with any particular connectional system, but several possibilities are raised. We also discuss possible roles of area-specific genes in postnatal development, and conclude with a brief sketch of future directions.