The remarkable diversity of neurons in the nervous system is generated during development, when properties such as cell morphology, receptor profiles and neurotransmitter identities are specified. In order to gain a greater understanding of neurotransmitter specification we profiled the transcription state of cholinergic, GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons in vivo at three developmental time points. We identified 86 differentially expressed transcription factors that are uniquely enriched, or uniquely depleted, in a specific neurotransmitter type. Some transcription factors show a similar profile across development, others only show enrichment or depletion at specific developmental stages. Profiling of Acj6 (cholinergic enriched) and Ets65A (cholinergic depleted) binding sites in vivo reveals that they both directly bind the ChAT locus, in addition to a wide spectrum of other key neuronal differentiation genes. We also show that cholinergic enriched transcription factors are expressed in mostly non-overlapping populations in the adult brain, implying the absence of combinatorial regulation of neurotransmitter fate in this context. Furthermore, our data underlines that, similar to Caenorhabditis elegans, there are no simple transcription factor codes for neurotransmitter type specification.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.