Skin-derived precursor cells (SKPs) are a novel population of neural crest-related precursor cells that can be isolated from embryonic and adult skin. SKPs are capable of generating neuronal, glial and mesodermal progeny. Fate mapping and microdissection experiments have demonstrated a neural crest origin of SKPs within defined niches in adult skin. The finding that SKP derivatives such as Schwann cells and neuronal cells have in vitro and in vivo function raises the possibility of SKPs being both an experimental and therapeutic resource for disease modelling and regenerative medicine. This review focuses on the increased understanding of the developmental and anatomical origins of SKPs and the biotechnological potential of these cells.