Cell lineage analyses suggest that cortical neuroblasts are capable of undertaking both radial and tangential modes of cell movement. However, it is unclear whether distinct progenitors are committed to generating neuroblasts that disperse exclusively in either radial or tangential directions. Using highly unbalanced mouse stem cell chimeras, we have identified certain progenitors that are committed to one mode of cell dispersion only. Radially dispersed neurons expressed glutamate, the neurochemical signature of excitatory pyramidal cells. In contrast, tangential progenitors gave rise to widely scattered neurons that are predominantly GABAergic. These results suggest lineage-based mechanisms for early specification of certain progenitors to distinct dispersion pathways and neuronal phenotypes.