The formation of the root epidermis in Arabidopsis thaliana provides a simple model to study mechanisms underlying patterning in plants. In this paper we have analyzed the relationships between cell fate specification and the pattern of cell division that occur in the root epidermis. Using clonal analysis, the two cell types of the developing root epidermis, trichoblasts and atrichoblasts, were distinguished by different rates of cell division, highest in trichoblasts. This character appears to be dependent on TTG which controls epidermal cell fate specification. The ability of epidermal cells to undergo longitudinal divisions which are involved in the control of the radial symmetry was shown to be controlled in a cell-specific manner by TTG. The control of the rate and the orientation of cell division in the root meristem epidermal layer thus appear to be under the control of cell fate specification mechanisms.