Notch proteins regulate a broad spectrum of cell fate decisions and differentiation processes during fetal and postnatal life. These proteins are involved in organogenesis during embryonic development as well as in the maintenance of homeostasis of self-renewing systems. The paradigms of Notch function, such as stem and progenitor cell maintenance, lineage specification mediated by binary cell fate decisions, and induction of terminal differentiation, were initially established in invertebrates and subsequently confirmed in mammals. Moreover, aberrant Notch signaling is linked to tumorigenesis. In this review, we discuss the origin of postulated Notch functions, give examples from different mammalian organ systems, and try to relate them to the hematopoietic system.