BACKGROUND: Nuclear factor I family members nuclear factor I A and nuclear factor I B play important roles during cerebral cortical development. Nuclear factor I A and nuclear factor I B regulate similar biological processes, as their expression patterns, regulation of target genes and individual knockout phenotypes overlap. We hypothesised that the combined allelic loss of Nfia and Nfib would culminate in more severe defects in the cerebral cortex than loss of a single member. METHODS: We combined immunofluorescence, co-immunoprecipitation, gene expression analysis and immunohistochemistry on knockout mouse models to investigate whether nuclear factor I A and nuclear factor I B function similarly and whether increasing allelic loss of Nfia and Nfib caused a more severe phenotype. RESULTS: We determined that the biological functions of nuclear factor I A and nuclear factor I B overlap during early cortical development. These proteins are co-expressed and can form heterodimers in vivo. Differentially regulated genes that are shared between Nfia and Nfib knockout mice are highly enriched for nuclear factor I binding sites in their promoters and are associated with neurodevelopment. We found that compound heterozygous deletion of both genes resulted in a cortical phenotype similar to that of single homozygous Nfia or Nfib knockout embryos. This was characterised by retention of the interhemispheric fissure, dysgenesis of the corpus callosum and a malformed dentate gyrus. Double homozygous knockout of Nfia and Nfib resulted in a more severe phenotype, with increased ventricular enlargement and decreased numbers of differentiated glia and neurons. CONCLUSION: In the developing cerebral cortex, nuclear factor I A and nuclear factor I B share similar biological functions and function additively, as the combined allelic loss of these genes directly correlates with the severity of the developmental brain phenotype.