Botulinum ADP-ribosyltransferase C3 (C3 exoenzyme) was purified to homogeneity and added to cultured rat pheochromocytoma PC-12 cells. Incubation with this exoenzyme caused inhibition of cell growth and induced neurites as well as acetylcholine esterase in these cells. These changes were dependent on the amount of the enzyme added to the culture, which correlated with the in situ ADP-ribosylation of the rho/rac proteins in the cells. Preincubation with a specific anti-C3 exoenzyme monoclonal antibody inhibited both the ADP-ribosyltransferase activity and the neurite-inducing activity of the enzyme preparation. These results suggest that C3 exoenzyme affected the cellular function of the rho/rac proteins by ADP-ribosylation to induce these changes in the cells.