Despite striking parallels between the fields of developmental biology and adult tissue homeostasis, these are disconnected in contemporary research. Although development describes tissue generation and homeostasis describes tissue maintenance, it is the balance between stem cell proliferation and differentiation that coordinates both processes. Upstream signalling regulates this balance to achieve the required outcome at the population level. Both development and homeostasis require tight regulation of stem cells at the single-cell level and establishment of patterns at the tissue-wide level. Here, we emphasize that the general principles of embryonic development and tissue homeostasis are similar, and argue that interactions between these disciplines will be beneficial for both research fields.