The failure of axons to regenerate within the brain and spinal cord of mature mammals has been attributed to the absence of growth-promoting substances, especially extracellular matrix components, or to the presence of growth-inhibiting substances, particularly components associated with CNS myelin. The ability of mature mammalian CNS tissue to support neurite regeneration was tested by growing explants of embryonic chick lumbar sympathetic ganglia on fresh frozen sections of the mature rat brain and spinal cord. The extent of neurite outgrowth was quantified using morphometric analysis for explants grown on sections that included most of the major anatomical divisions of the CNS. Extensive, but variable, regeneration was present on gray matter regions, whereas major white matter tracts showed poor support, if any, for neurite growth. The results are consistent with the presence of growth-inhibiting factors associated with CNS white matter but also indicate that most gray matter regions of the mature mammalian brain and spinal cord will support axonal regeneration in tissue culture in spite of the absence of known extracellular matrix components.