Structural brain repair has become a possibility with the identification and characterization of persistent neuronal progenitor cells in both the neonatal and adult brain. However, despite recent advances in the identification, propagation and expansion of these cells, they will not be useful therapeutically until methods are available for directing or delivering them to sites of need. As a result, the natural history and induction of neuronal migration into adult brain tissue has assumed new importance in clinical neurobiology. In this review we consider the cellular and molecular bases of neuronal migration into the postnatal forebrain. In particular, we discuss two natural paradigms of postnatal neuronal recruitment: radial-cell-directed neuronal migration to the songbird neostriatum, and neurophilic migration to the rodent olfactory bulb. In each, we will focus on the dynamic interactions between the migrants, their cellular guides and the local environment, and the effect of those interactions on migrational success.