Receptor-mediated interactions between neurons and astroglia are likely to play a crucial role in the growth and guidance of CNS axons. Using antibodies to neuronal cell surface proteins, we identified two receptor systems mediating neurite outgrowth on cultured astrocytes. N-cadherin, a Ca2(+)-dependent cell adhesion molecule, functions prominently in the outgrowth of neurites on astrocytes by E8 and E14 chick ciliary ganglion (CG) neurons. beta 1-class integrin ECM receptor heterodimers function less prominently in E8 and not at all in E14 neurite outgrowth on astrocytes. The lack of effect of integrin beta 1 antibodies on E14 neurite outgrowth reflects an apparent loss of integrin function, as assayed by E14 neuronal attachment and process outgrowth on laminin. N-CAM appeared not to be required for neurite outgrowth by either E8 or E14 neurons. Since N-cadherin and integrin beta 1 antibodies together virtually eliminated E8 CG neurite outgrowth on cultured astrocytes, these two neuronal receptors are probably important in regulating axon growth on astroglia in vivo.