The proliferation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) is regulated by classical neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine, via its own receptors. Previous studies have reported that the depletion of L-norepinephrine decreases the proliferation of NPCs in the adult rat hippocampus and it has been suggested that L-norepinephrine regulates the proliferation of NPCs. However, it remains unknown whether or not adrenergic receptors are involved in the increased proliferation of NPCs. In the present study, an MTT cell proliferation assay was carried out in order to investigate the roles played by adrenergic receptors in the proliferation of NPCs. We demonstrated that L-epinephrine enhanced the proliferation of embryonic NPCs in vitro. In addition, the alpha-1 adrenergic receptor agonist L-phenylephrine was found to enhance the proliferation of NPCs, whereas an alpha-adrenergic antagonist and selective alpha-1 antagonists significantly inhibited cell proliferation increases induced by L-epinephrine and L-phenylephrine. These results suggest that stimulation with alpha-1 adrenergic receptors induces the proliferation of embryonic NPCs.