Urban growth modelling has attracted considerable attention over the past two decades. This article reviews the driving factors that have been identified and studied in cellular automata (CA); one of the popular methods in urban growth modelling. Over a hundred articles published between 1993 and 2012 were selected and reviewed. We extracted the driving factors from CA transition rules and arranged them in a list. The list contributes to early spatial research for the selection of factors in CA models. Our analyses show that studies between 1993 and 2000 mainly focused on using earth’s physical factors in predicting urban growths, while recent studies combined them with socioeconomic factors, resulting with models with a greater number of inputs. Nevertheless, the human-behaviour factors impacting urban growth were generally under-represented. Geographically, more applications of the CA urban growth models have been seen in the developed countries compared with those in the developing countries, suggesting substantial work is needed to address issues in understanding and modelling rapid urban growth processes in developing countries.