Precise spatiotemporal control of mRNA translation machinery is essential to the development of highly complex systems like the neocortex. However, spatiotemporal regulation of translation machinery in the developing neocortex remains poorly understood. Here, we show that an RNA-binding protein, Hu antigen R (HuR), regulates both neocorticogenesis and specificity of neocortical translation machinery in a developmental stage-dependent manner in mice. Neocortical absence of HuR alters the phosphorylation states of initiation and elongation factors in the core translation machinery. In addition, HuR regulates the temporally specific positioning of functionally related mRNAs into the active translation sites, the polysomes. HuR also determines the specificity of neocortical polysomes by defining their combinatorial composition of ribosomal proteins and initiation and elongation factors. For some HuR-dependent proteins, the association with polysomes likewise depends on the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha kinase 4, which associates with HuR in prenatal developing neocortices. Finally, we found that deletion of HuR before embryonic day 10 disrupts both neocortical lamination and formation of the main neocortical commissure, the corpus callosum. Our study identifies a crucial role for HuR in neocortical development as a translational gatekeeper for functionally related mRNA subgroups and polysomal protein specificity.