Cell cycle analysis typically relies on fixed time-point measurements of cells in particular phases of the cell cycle. The cell cycle, however, is a dynamic process whose subtle shifts are lost by fixed time-point methods. Live-cell fluorescent biosensors and time-lapse microscopy allows the collection of temporal information about real time cell cycle progression and arrest. Using two genetically-encoded biosensors, we measured the precision of the G(1), S, G(2) and M cell cycle phase durations in different cell types and identified a bimodal G(1) phase duration in a fibroblast cell line that is not present in the other cell types. Using a cell line model for neuronal differentiation, we demonstrated that NGF-induced neurite extension occurs independently of NGF-induced cell cycle G(1) phase arrest. Thus, we have begun to use cell cycle fluorescent biosensors to examine the proliferation of cell populations at the resolution of individual cells and neuronal differentiation as a dynamic process of parallel cell cycle arrest and neurite outgrowth.