Global gene expression analysis of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that differentiate into neural cells would help to further define the molecular mechanisms involved in neurogenesis in humans. We performed a comprehensive transcripteome analysis of hESC differentiation at three different stages: early neural differentiation, neural ectoderm, and differentiated neurons. We identified and validated time-dependent gene expression patterns and showed that the gene expression patterns reflect early ESC differentiation. Sets of genes are induced in primary ectodermal lineages and then in differentiated neurons, constituting consecutive waves of known and novel genes. Pathway analysis revealed dynamic expression patterns of members of several signaling pathways, including NOTCH, mTOR and Toll like receptors (TLR), during neural differentiation. An interaction network analysis revealed that the TGFβ family of genes, including LEFTY1, ID1 and ID2, are possible key players in the proliferation and maintenance of neural ectoderm. Collectively, these results enhance our understanding of the molecular dynamics underlying neural commitment and differentiation.