Ethanol inhibits the proliferation of neural stem cells in the fetal, adolescent, and adult brain. The consequences are cognitive deficits associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and alcohol use disorder. We tested the hypothesis that ethanol affects progression through cell cycle checkpoints by differentially modifying transcriptional processes. Monolayer cultures of NS-5 neural stem cells were treated for 48 hr with the mitogenic agent FGF2 or the anti-mitogenic TGF1 in the absence or presence of ethanol. Cell cycle elongation was induced by a global down-regulation of genes involved in cell cycle progression, including the cyclin E system. Checkpoint regulation occurred downstream of p21 and Jun-oncogene signaling cascades. Thus, ethanol can affect cell cycle progression by altering transcript expression of strategic genes downstream of the G1/S checkpoint.