Adult neural stem cells are mostly quiescent and only rarely enter the cell cycle to self-renew and generate neuronal or glial progenies. The Notch signaling pathway is essential for both the quiescent and proliferative states of neural stem cells. However, these are mutually exclusive cellular states; thus, how Notch promotes both of these programs within adult neural stem cells has remained unclear. In this issue of Genes & Development, Sueda and colleagues (pp. 511-523) use an extensive repertoire of mouse genetic tools and techniques to demonstrate that it is the levels and dynamic expression of the Notch transcriptional effector Hairy and Enhancer of Split 1 that enables this dual role.