The mammalian neocortex is generated by waves of migrating cells originating from the ventricular zone. Radial migration along radial glia has been proposed as the dominant mechanism for this process. The radial unit hypothesis is poorly supported by retroviral lineage studies, however, and although some clones show limited radial organization, the emphasis appears to be on widespread tangential dispersion. Here we investigate the pattern of cortical cell dispersion using transgenic mice in which roughly half of the brain cells are coloured by a transgene. We find that the neocortex is randomly divided into diffused bands, the majority of cells within each band have the same colour, and their radial orientation suggests radial dispersion. Superimposed upon this was a significant contribution by tangentially dispersed cells that did not respect clonal borders. These observations indicate that cortical specification is not dependent upon a single mechanism of cell allocation, but that both radial mosaicism and tangential cell migration are involved.