The spatial orientation of cell divisions is fundamental for tissue architecture and homeostasis. Here we analysed neuroepithelial progenitors in the developing mouse spinal cord to determine whether extracellular signals orient the mitotic spindle. We report that Semaphorin3B (Sema3B) released from the floor plate and the nascent choroid plexus in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) controls progenitor division orientation. Delivery of exogenous Sema3B to neural progenitors after neural tube opening in living embryos promotes planar orientation of their division. Preventing progenitor access to cues present in the CSF by genetically engineered canal obstruction affects the proportion of planar and oblique divisions. Sema3B knockout phenocopies the loss of progenitor access to the CSF. Sema3B binds to the apical surface of mitotic progenitors and exerts its effect via Neuropilin receptors, GSK3 activation and subsequent inhibition of the microtubule stabilizer CRMP2. Thus, extrinsic control mediated by the Semaphorin signalling orients progenitor divisions in neurogenic zones.