X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is a mammalian-specific process initiated in all female cells, leading to one inactivated X chromosome. The robust nature of XCI, and the complex mechanisms involved in directing this process, makes XCI an important model system to study all aspects of gene regulation. XCI is divided into distinct phases: initiation, establishment, and maintenance of the inactive X (Xi). Recent studies shed important new light on the mechanisms directing all three phases of XCI. These findings include new regulatory pathways in XCI initiation, and the identification of a plethora of new factors involved in establishing and maintaining the Xi. In this review, we will highlight and discuss these new findings in the bigger picture of XCI.