Female mammalian cells compensate dosage of X-linked gene expression through the inactivation of one of their two X chromosomes. X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in eutherians is dependent on the non-coding RNA Xist that is up-regulated from the future inactive X chromosome, coating it and recruiting factors involved in silencing and altering its chromatin state. Xist lies within the X-inactivation center (Xic), a region on the X that is required for XCI, and is regulated in cis by elements on the X chromosome and in trans by diffusible factors. In this review, we summarize the latest results in cis- and trans-regulation of the Xic. We discuss how the organization of the Xic in topologically associating domains is important for XCI (cis-regulation) and how proteins in the pluripotent state and upon development or differentiation of embryonic stem cells control proper inactivation of one X chromosome (trans-regulation).