During mammalian cerebral cortex development, the G1-phase of the cell cycle is known to lengthen, but it has been unclear which neural stem and progenitor cells are affected. In this paper, we develop a novel approach to determine cell-cycle parameters in specific classes of neural stem and progenitor cells, identified by molecular markers rather than location. We found that G1 lengthening was associated with the transition from stem cell-like apical progenitors to fate-restricted basal (intermediate) progenitors. Unexpectedly, expanding apical and basal progenitors exhibit a substantially longer S-phase than apical and basal progenitors committed to neuron production. Comparative genome-wide gene expression analysis of expanding versus committed progenitor cells revealed changes in key factors of cell-cycle regulation, DNA replication and repair and chromatin remodelling. Our findings suggest that expanding neural stem and progenitor cells invest more time during S-phase into quality control of replicated DNA than those committed to neuron production.