Lateral root formation in plants involves the stimulation of mature pericycle cells to proliferate and redifferentiate to create a new organ. The simple organization of the root of Arabidopsis thaliana allows the development of lateral root primordia to be characterized histologically. We have divided the process of lateral root development into 8 stages defined by specific anatomical characteristics and cell divisions. To identify the cell types in the developing primordium we have generated a collection of marker lines that express beta-glucuronidase in a tissue- or cell type-specific manner in the root. Using these tools we have constructed a model describing the lineage of each cell type in the lateral root. These studies show that organization and cell differentiation in the lateral root primordia precede the appearance of a lateral root meristem, with differential gene expression apparent after the first set of divisions of the pericycle.