The neural crest is a transient population of multipotent progenitors arising at the lateral edge of the neural plate in vertebrate embryos. After delamination and migration from the neuroepithelium, these cells contribute to a diverse array of tissues including neurons, smooth muscle, craniofacial cartilage, bone cells, endocrine cells and pigment cells. Considerable progress in recent years has furthered our understanding at a molecular level of how this important group of cells is generated and how they are assigned to specific lineages. Here we review a number of recent studies supporting a role for Wnt signaling in neural crest induction, differentiation, and apoptosis. We also summarize the timing of expression of a number of Wnt ligands and receptors with respect to neural crest induction. BioEssays 25:317–325, 2003. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.