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Cell division during embryogenesis plays a crucial role in the formation of the nervous system. During this developmental process, proliferating neural precursor cells commit to a neuronal fate and, as a consequence, undergo terminal mitosis and adopt a neuronal phenotype. A key cell cycle regulator, the tumor suppressor protein, retinoblastoma (Rb), is involved in both terminal mitosis and neuronal differentiation. Neural development is a complex process involving cell proliferation, cell fate determination and differentiation, as well as programmed cell death. In this review, we will examine each of these processes in turn, focussing on the role of the Rb family proteins to examine their many influences on these events.