How cells adopt different identities has long fascinated biologists. Signal transduction in response to environmental cues results in the activation of transcription factors that determine the gene-expression program characteristic of each cell type. Technological advances in the study of 3D chromatin folding are bringing the role of genome conformation in transcriptional regulation to the fore. Characterizing this role of genome architecture has profound implications, not only for differentiation and development but also for diseases including developmental malformations and cancer. Here we review recent studies indicating that the interplay between transcription and genome conformation is a driving force for cell-fate decisions.