The Arabidopsis root has been the subject of intense research over the past decades. This research has led to significantly improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying root development. Key insights into the specification of individual cell types, cell patterning, growth and differentiation, branching of the primary root, and responses of the root to the environment have been achieved. Transcription factors and plant hormones play key regulatory roles. Recently, mechanisms involving protein movement and the oscillation of gene expression have also been uncovered. Root gene regulatory networks controlling root development have been reconstructed from genome-wide profiling experiments, revealing novel molecular connections and models. Future refinement of these models will lead to a more complete description of the complex molecular interactions that give rise to a simple growing root.