Arabidopsis trichomes are large unicellular structures that develop on the surface of most shoot-derived organs. In leaves, the number, spacing and shape of trichomes is tightly regulated, and this process has been used as an experimental system to study the control of cell fate and pattern formation. The control of trichome initiation is complex: both the potential of a cell to adopt the trichome cell fate and an intricate signaling pathway determine the pattern of trichome initiation events. Several important new results suggest that trichome initiation and morphogenesis are redundantly regulated by both positive and negative factors. A testable model for the control of trichome initiation is presented.