Using a monoclonal antibody directed against a class III beta-tubulin isotype, c beta 4, we studied the time course of the expression of this protein, the morphological differentiation of the immunoreactive cells, and the time course of peripheral axon outgrowth in the chick trigeminal (V) system. The neural crest precursors of the V ganglion neurons do not express the antigen until they begin to differentiate as neurons. The placodal precursors of the V ganglion neurons express the antigen while they still are cuboidal epithelial cells. They continue to be immunoreactive as they migrate from the placode and settle in the ganglion, prior to sprouting axons. The V motoneurons express the antigen near the time of their terminal mitotic division. Using this antibody to visualize axons, we demonstrate that both ganglionic and motoneuron axons grow out as individual fibers, much like pioneer axons. Both halt their extension for several hours once they attain the vicinity of their targets. During this pause many other axons join the nerve bundles. Finally, single pioneer axons split from the main trunk to begin local target innervation.