To determine the role of Dp71 in neuronal cells, we generated PC12 cell lines in which Dp71 protein levels were controlled by stable transfection with either antisense or sense constructs. Cells expressing the antisense Dp71 RNA (antisense-Dp71 cells) contained reduced amounts of the two endogenous Dp71 isoforms. Antisense-Dp71 cells exhibited a marked suppression of neurite outgrowth upon the induction with NGF or dibutyryl cyclic AMP. Early responses to NGF-induced neuronal differentiation, such as the cessation of cell division and the activation of ERK1/2 proteins, were normal in the antisense-Dp71 cells. On contrary, the induction of MAP2, a late differentiation marker, was disturbed in these cells. Additionally, the deficiency of Dp71 correlated with an altered expression of the dystrophin-associated protein complex (DAPC) members alpha and beta dystrobrevins. Our results indicate that normal expression of Dp71 is essential for neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells and constitute the first direct evidence implicating Dp71 in a neuronal function.