The relationship between the expression of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) and microtubule formation was studied in embryonic cerebellar macroneurons maintained in culture. The results obtained suggest that in these neurons high molecular weight-MAP2 (HMW-MAP2) acts as a promoter of tubulin assembly since its induction and pattern of distribution are highly correlated with the increase in microtubule mass which parallels axonal and dendritic growth; MAP-1a may have a similar role but restricted to the assembly of dendritic microtubules. On the other hand, Tau expression and accumulation follows a time course identical to that of the induction of stable microtubules; besides, at all stages of neurite differentiation and growth this protein seems to be preferentially associated with this subset of microtubules as opposed to the other MAPs, observations which suggest an important role for this protein in determining microtubule stability during axonal and dendritic elongation. Finally, the present results show that environmental stimuli are capable of regulating the expression of these MAPs; the induction of each of them varies as a function of the type of signal. Thus, while diffusable substances are able to dramatically induce HMW-MAP2, MAP-1a and Tau inductions depend on cell substrate attachment and/or cell-cell interactions.