The enteric nervous system (ENS) arises from neural crest-derived cells that migrate into and along the gut, leading to the formation of a complex network of neurons and glial cells that regulates motility, secretion and blood flow. This Review summarizes the progress made in the past 5 years in our understanding of ENS development, including the migratory pathways of neural crest-derived cells as they colonize the gut. The importance of interactions between neural crest-derived cells, between signalling pathways and between developmental processes (such as proliferation and migration) in ensuring the correct development of the ENS is also presented. The signalling pathways involved in ENS development that were determined using animal models are also described, as is the evidence for the involvement of the genes encoding these molecules in Hirschsprung disease-the best characterized paediatric enteric neuropathy. Finally, the aetiology and treatment of Hirschsprung disease in the clinic and the potential involvement of defects in ENS development in other paediatric motility disorders are outlined.