The mouse neuronal F3 glycoprotein and its chicken homolog F11 belong to a subclass of proteins of the immunoglobulin superfamily with preferential localization on axons and neurites. We have transfected F3 cDNA into CHO cells. Biochemical analysis establishes that the cDNA we have cloned codes for a 130 kd phosphatidylinositol-anchored polypeptide. F3-expressing transfectants exhibited enhanced self-adhesive properties, aggregating with faster kinetics and forming larger aggregates than F3-negative control cells. When used as a culture substrate for sensory neurons, F3-transfected cells showed a markedly enhanced ability to promote neurite outgrowth compared with nontransfected cells. The results support the idea that F3/F11 and other closely similar proteins function as cell adhesion molecules that play a role in axonal growth and guidance.