Stem and progenitor cells of the developing and adult brain can be effectively identified and manipulated using reporter genes, introduced into transgenic reporter mouse lines or recombinant viruses. Such reporters rely on an ever-increasing variety of fluorescent proteins and a continuously expanding list of regulatory elements and of mouse lines engineered for cell- or time-specific recombination. An important extension of stem-cell-based genetic strategies is an opportunity to explore the properties of newly generated neurons and their contribution to synaptic plasticity. Here, we review available strategies for marking and quantifying various classes of stem and progenitor cells in the adult brain, genetically tracing their progeny, and studying the properties of stem cells and new neurons. We compare various experimental approaches to labeling and investigating stem cells and their progenyand discuss caveats and limitations inherent to each approach.