Neurogenesis in Drosophila begins with the formation of neuronal precursors, which give rise to neurons of individual identity. To find out whether there are genes that are expressed in most or all neuronal precursors and are involved in controlling particular aspects of neuronal differentiation, we used the enhancer-trap method to screen for such "neuronal precursor genes." One gene of this group is prospero. Our mutant analysis indicates that prospero regulates other neuronal precursor genes and is essential for the axonal outgrowth and pathfinding of numerous central and peripheral neurons. prospero encodes a large nuclear protein with multiple homopolymeric amino acid stretches and is expressed in neuronal precursors early during their formation. It is probably generally required for proper neuronal differentiation.