Astrocyte-like cells, which act as stem cells in the adult brain, reside in a few restricted stem cell niches. However, following brain injury, glia outside these niches acquire or reactivate stem cell potential as part of reactive gliosis. Recent studies have begun to uncover the molecular pathways involved in this process. A comparison of molecular pathways activated after injury with those involved in the normal neural stem cell niches highlights strategies that could overcome the inhibition of neurogenesis outside the stem cell niche and instruct parenchymal glia towards a neurogenic fate. This new view on reactive glia therefore suggests a widespread endogenous source of cells with stem cell potential, which might potentially be harnessed for local repair strategies.