To characterize the role of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) in regulating neuroepithelial stem cells differentiation, we have examined the expression of FGF, EGF, and their receptors by neuroepithelial (NEP) cells and their derivatives. Our results indicate that undifferentiated NEP cells express a subset of FGF receptor (FGFR) isoforms, but do not express platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRs) or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The FGFR pattern of expression by differentiated neuron and glial cells differs from that found on NEP stem cells. FGFR-4 is uniquely expressed on NEP cells, while FGFR-1 is expressed by both NEP cells and neurons, and FGFR-2 is down-regulated during neuronal differentiation. FGFRs present on astrocytes and oligodendrocytes also represent a subset of those present on NEP cells. Expression of FGF and EGF by NEP cells and their progeny was also examined. NEP cells synthesize detectable levels of both FGF-1 and FGF-2, and EGF. FGF-1 and FGF-2 synthesis is likely to be biologically relevant, as cells grown at high density do not require exogenous FGF for their survival and cells grown in the presence of neutralizing antibodies to FGF show a reduction in cell survival and division. Thus, neuroepithelial cells synthesize and respond to FGF, but not to EGF, and are therefore distinct from other neural stem cells (neurospheres). The unique pattern of expression of FGF isoforms may serve to distinguish NEP cells from their more differentiated progeny.