Notch signaling plays a pivotal role in the regulation of many fundamental cellular processes, such as proliferation, stem cell maintenance and differentiation during embryonic and adult development. At the molecular level, ligand binding induces the proteolytic cleavage of the Notch receptor. The intracellular domain of Notch translocates subsequently into the nucleus, associates with the central transcription factor RBP-J and activates transcription. Although, this pathway is remarkably short, with no second messenger involved, it regulates expression of more than hundred target genes in a tissue-specific manner. This review summarizes recent studies on transcriptional and chromatin control mechanisms, which set the stage for specific expression of Notch target genes. Furthermore, we review how the canonical (RBP-J dependent) Notch pathway is fine-tuned by downstream effectors and feedback loops in mammals.