Bach1 and Bach2 are evolutionarily related members of the BTB-basic region leucine zipper transcription factor family. We found that Bach2 downregulates cell proliferation of N1E-115 cells and negatively affects their potential to differentiate. Nuclear localization of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 is known to arrest cell cycle progression, and cytoplasmic p21 has been shown to promote neuronal differentiation of N1E-115 cells. We found that ectopic Bach2 causes upregulation of p21 expression in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm in undifferentiated N1E-115 cells. In differentiated cells, Bach2 specifically triggers upregulation of cytoplasmic p21. Our data suggest that Bach2 expression could represent a switch during the process of neuronal differentiation. Bach2 is not expressed in neuronal precursor cells. It would have negative effects on proliferation and differentiation of these cells. In differentiated neuronal cells Bach2 expression is upregulated, which could allow Bach2 to function as a gatekeeper of the differentiated status.