Organogenesis depends upon a well-ordered series of inductive events involving coordination of molecular pathways that regulate the generation and patterning of specific cell types. Key questions in organogenesis involve the identification of the molecular mechanisms by which proteins interact to organize distinct pattern formation and cell fate determination. Tooth development is an excellent context for investigating this complex problem because of the wealth of information emerging from studies of model organisms and human mutations. Since there are no obvious sources of stem cells in adult human teeth, any attempt to create teeth de novo will probably require the reprogramming of other cell types. Thus, the fundamental understanding of the control mechanisms responsible for normal tooth patterning in the embryo will help us understand cell fate specificity and may provide valuable information towards tooth organ regeneration.