The olfactory bulb, neocortex and archicortex arise from a common pool of progenitors in the dorsal telencephalon. We studied the consequences of supplying excess Notch1 signal in vivo on the cellular and regional destinies of telencephalic precursors using bicistronic replication defective retroviruses. After ventricular injections mid-neurogenesis (E14.5), activated Notch1 retrovirus markedly inhibited the generation of neurons from telencephalic precursors, delayed the emergence of cells from the subventricular zone (SVZ), and produced an augmentation of glial progeny in the neo- and archicortex. However, activated Notch1 had a distinct effect on the progenitors of the olfactory bulb, markedly reducing the numbers of cells of any type that migrated there. To elucidate the mechanism of the cell fate changes elicited by Notch1 signals in the cortical regions, short- and long-term cultures of E14.5 telencephalic progenitors were examined. These studies reveal that activated Notch1 elicits a cessation of proliferation that coincides with an inhibition of the generation of neurons. Later, during gliogenesis, activated Notch1 triggers a rapid cellular proliferation with a significant increase in the generation of cells expressing GFAP. To examine the generation of cells destined for the olfactory bulb, we used stereotaxic injections into the early postnatal anterior subventricular zone (SVZa). We observed that precursors of the olfactory bulb responded to Notch signals by remaining quiescent and failing to give rise to differentiated progeny of any type, unlike cortical precursor cells, which generated glia instead of neurons. These data show that forebrain precursors vary in their response to Notch signals according to spatial and temporal cues, and that Notch signals influence the composition of forebrain regions by modulating the rate of proliferation of neural precursor cells.