Evidence for neurogenesis within the adult brain has challenged traditional views that this tissue is devoid of stem cell activity. This raises the possibility of introducing new cells through cell transplantation or stimulating endogenous neurogenesis as routes to treat disease and injury. Fetal and adult neural stem/progenitor cells can be isolated and expanded in vitro and might provide a cell source for such transplantations. Embryonic stem (ES) cells, which can generate any adult tissues, offer an alternative unlimited supply of neural tissue. We recently showed that both mouse and human ES cells can be converted to adherent neural stem (NS) cell lines  . Here we discuss the benefits of working with NS cell lines and how they might be exploited for studies of fundamental cellular processes, such as neuronal specification and differentiation. NS cells also serve as versatile models of disease processes, either through genetic manipulations or direct isolation from disease carriers and can be exploited in pharmaceutical drug screening. Longer term, NS cells offer an opportunity to rigorously test the efficacy of cell-based therapies and develop strategies for tissue engineering.