The segmented pattern of peripheral spinal nerves in higher vertebrates is generated by interactions between nerve cells and somites. Neural crest cells, motor axons, and sensory axons grow exclusively through anterior-half sclerotome. In chick embryos, posterior cells bind the lectins peanut agglutinin (PNA) and Jacalin. When liposomes containing somite extracts are applied to cultures of chick sensory neurons, growth cones collapse abruptly, recovering within 4 hr of liposome removal. Collapse activity is eliminated by immobilized PNA, and SDS-PAGE demonstrates two major components (48K and 55K), which are absent from anterior-half sclerotome. Rabbit polyclonal antibodies against these components recognize only posterior cells and may also be used to eliminate collapse activity. We suggest that spinal nerve segmentation is produced by inhibitory interactions between these components and growth cones.