Cajal-Retzius (CR) cells play a fundamental role in the development of the mammalian cerebral cortex. They control the formation of cortical layers by regulating the migration of pyramidal cells through the release of Reelin. The function of CR cells critically depends on their regular distribution throughout the surface of the cortex, but little is known about the events controlling this phenomenon. Using time-lapse video microscopy in vivo and in vitro, we found that movement of CR cells is regulated by repulsive interactions, which leads to their random dispersion throughout the cortical surface. Mathematical modeling reveals that contact repulsion is both necessary and sufficient for this process, which demonstrates that complex neuronal assemblies may emerge during development through stochastic events. At the molecular level, we found that contact repulsion is mediated by Eph/ephrin interactions. Our observations reveal a mechanism that controls the even distribution of neurons in the developing brain.