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A complex nervous system requires precise numbers of various neuronal types produced with exquisite spatiotemporal control. This striking diversity is generated by a limited number of neural stem cells (NSC), where spatial and temporal patterning intersect. Drosophila is a genetically tractable model system that has significant advantages for studying stem cell biology and neuronal fate specification. Here we review the latest findings in the rich literature of temporal patterning of neuronal identity in the Drosophila central nervous system. Rapidly changing consecutive transcription factors expressed in NSCs specify short series of neurons with considerable differences. More slowly progressing changes are orchestrated by NSC intrinsic temporal factor gradients which integrate extrinsic signals to coordinate nervous system and organismal development.