Understanding human brain development is of fundamental interest but is also very challenging. Single-cell RNA-sequencing studies in mammals have revealed that brain development is a highly dynamic process with tremendous, previously concealed, cellular heterogeneity. This Spotlight discusses key insights from these studies and their implications for experimental models. We survey published single-cell RNA-sequencing studies of mouse and human brain development, organized by anatomical regions and developmental time points. We highlight remaining gaps in the field, predominantly concerning human brain development. We propose future directions to fill the remaining gaps, and necessary complementary techniques to create an atlas integrated in space and time of human brain development.