Nervous systems exhibit myriad cell types, but understanding how this diversity arises is hampered by the difficulty to visualize and genetically-probe specific lineages, especially at early developmental stages prior to expression of unique molecular markers. Here, we use a genetic immortalization method to analyze the development of sensory neuron lineages in the Drosophila olfactory system, from their origin to terminal differentiation. We apply this approach to define a fate map of nearly all olfactory lineages and refine the model of temporal patterns of lineage divisions. Taking advantage of a selective marker for the lineage that gives rise to Or67d pheromone-sensing neurons and a genome-wide transcription factor RNAi screen, we identify the spatial and temporal requirements for Pointed, an ETS family member, in this developmental pathway. Transcriptomic analysis of wild-type and Pointed-depleted olfactory tissue reveals a universal requirement for this factor as a switch-like determinant of fates in these sensory lineages.