The evolutionarily conserved Notch signaling pathway regulates a broad spectrum of cell fate decisions and differentiation processes during fetal and postnatal life. It is involved in embryonic organogenesis as well as in the maintenance of homeostasis of self-renewing systems. In this article, we review the role of Notch signaling in the hematopoietic system with particular emphasis on lymphocyte development and highlight the similarities in Notch function between Drosophila and mammalian differentiation processes. Recent studies indicating that aberrant NOTCH signaling is frequently linked to the induction of T leukemia in humans will also be discussed.