Cells depend on the asymmetric distribution of their components for homeostasis, differentiation and movement. In no other cell type is this requirement more critical than in the neuron where complex structures are generated during process growth and elaboration and cargo is transported over distances several thousand times the cell body diameter. Microtubules act both as dynamic structural elements and as tracks for intracellular transport. Microtubules are mosaic polymers containing multiple tubulin isoforms functionalized with abundant posttranslational modifications that are asymmetrically distributed in neurons. An increasing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that the combinatorial information expressed through tubulin genetic and chemical diversity controls microtubule dynamics, mechanics and interactions with microtubule effectors and thus constitutes a 'tubulin code'. Here we give a brief overview of tubulin isoform usage and posttranslational modifications in the neuron, and highlight recent progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of the tubulin code.