PURPOSE To review the recent data about eyelid morphogenesis, and outline a timeline for eyelid development from the very early stages during embryonic life till final maturation of the eyelid late in fetal life. METHODS The authors extensively review major studies detailing human embryologic and fetal eyelid morphogenesis. These studies span almost a century and include some more recent cadaver studies. Numerous studies in the murine model have helped to better understand the molecular signals that govern eyelid embryogenesis. The authors summarize the current findings in molecular biology, and highlight the most significant studies in mice regarding the multiple and interacting signaling pathways involved in regulating normal eyelid morphogenesis. RESULTS Eyelid morphogenesis involves a succession of subtle yet strictly regulated morphogenetic episodes of tissue folding, proliferation, contraction, and even migration, which may occur simultaneously or in succession. CONCLUSIONS Understanding the extraordinary process of building eyelid tissue in embryonic life, and deciphering its underlying signaling machinery has far reaching clinical implications beyond understanding the developmental abnormalities involving the eyelids, and may pave the way for achieving scar-reducing therapies in adult mammalian wounds, or control the spread of malignancies.