Recent studies have revealed exciting new functions for forkhead transcription factors in cell proliferation and development. Cell proliferation is a fundamental process controlled by multiple overlapping mechanisms, and the control of gene expression plays a major role in the orderly and timely division of cells. This occurs through transcription factors regulating the expression of groups of genes at particular phases of the cell division cycle. In this way, the encoded gene products are present when they are required. This review outlines recent advances in our understanding of this process in yeast model systems and describes how this knowledge has informed analysis in more developmentally complex eukaryotes, particularly where it is relevant to human disease.