Cell diversity in the Drosophila central nervous system (CNS) is primarily generated by the invariant lineage of neural precursors called neuroblasts. We used an enhancer trap screen to identify the ming gene, which is transiently expressed in a subset of neuroblasts at reproducible points in their cell lineage (i.e. in neuroblast 'sublineages'), suggesting that neuroblast identity can be altered during its cell lineage. ming encodes a predicted zinc finger protein and loss of ming function results in precise alterations in CNS gene expression, defects in axonogenesis and embryonic lethality. We propose that ming controls cell fate within neuroblast cell lineages.