Regulated gene activity is crucial to the formation and function of the nervous system. It is well known that gene regulation can occur at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational, and post-translational levels. In this review our focus has been on the post-transcriptional regulation in neurons and on neural-specific RNA binding proteins that may be involved in post-transcriptional modulation of gene activity. We have taken advantage of this opportunity to review our work on the elav gene of Drosophila melanogaster which encodes a neural-specific RNA binding protein and relate it to other members of this elav-like gene family. We report new data that suggests that elav is post-transcriptionally regulated and we demonstrate that below-threshold levels of ELAV protein severely affects neuronal differentiation. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.