Olig1 and Olig2 encode basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors that are expressed in both the developing and mature vertebrate central nervous system. While numerous studies have established critical functions for Olig genes during the formation of motor neurons and oligodendrocytes of the ventral neural tube, their roles at later stages of development and in adulthood have remained relatively obscure. Recent studies, however, reveal that in the fetal dorsal spinal cord and neural progenitor cells of the adult brain, Olig expression continues to mark, and may regulate, the formation of oligodendroglia. Studies of Olig expression in human brain tumors and repair of demyelinating lesions suggest the possibility of additional functions in a variety of neurological diseases. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.