The generation of a peripheral T-cell pool is essential for normal immune system function. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are produced most efficiently in the thymus, which provides a complexity of discrete cellular microenvironments. Specialized stromal cells, that make up such microenvironments, influence each stage in the maturation programme of immature T-cell precursors. Progress has recently been made in elucidating events that regulate the development of intrathymic microenvironments, as well as mechanisms of thymocyte differentiation. It is becoming increasingly clear that the generation and maintenance of thymic environments that are capable of supporting efficient T-cell development, requires complex interplay between lymphoid and stromal compartments of the thymus.