Differentiation between bloodstream and tsetse midgut procyclic forms during the life cycle of the African trypanosome is an attractive model for the analysis of stage-regulated events. In particular, this transformation occurs synchronously, there are well-defined markers for stage-regulated processes and cell lines with specific defects in differentiation have been identified. This combination of tools, combined with the developing Trypanosoma brucei genome database is allowing its underlying controls to be investigated at the molecular and cytological levels. This paper examines some recent discoveries that illuminate some of the key events during trypanosome life-cycle progression.

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