The Drosophila central nervous system is generated by stem-cell-like progenitors called neuroblasts. Early in development, neuroblasts switch through a temporal series of transcription factors modulating neuronal fate according to the time of birth. At later stages, it is known that neuroblasts switch on expression of Grainyhead (Grh) and maintain it through many subsequent divisions. We report that the function of this conserved transcription factor is to specify the regionalised patterns of neurogenesis that are characteristic of postembryonic stages. In the thorax, Grh prolongs neural proliferation by maintaining a mitotically active neuroblast. In the abdomen, Grh terminates neural proliferation by regulating the competence of neuroblasts to undergo apoptosis in response to Abdominal-A expression. This study shows how a factor specific to late-stage neural progenitors can regulate the time at which neural proliferation stops, and identifies mechanisms linking it to the Hox axial patterning system.