We have examined glial cell lineages during rat spinal cord development by using a variety of antibodies that react with immature and mature glia. Radial glia in embryonic cord bound 1) A2B5, an antibody that reacts with a glial precursor cell population in optic nerve; 2) AbR24, which is directed against GD3 ganglioside and binds to immature neuroectodermal cells and to developing oligodendrocytes in forebrain and cerebellum; and 3) an antibody to the intermediate filament, vimentin. With time, two different populations emerged, both of which seemed to be derivatives of radial cells. One cell type expressed the astrocyte intermediate filament, GFAP, in addition to vimentin. GFAP-containing cells eventually took on the forms of astrocytes in gray and white matter. The other type expressed carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme characteristic of oligodendrocytes and enriched in myelin. Carbonic anhydrase-positive cells eventually developed into small cells with oligodendrocyte morphology. Our observations suggest a common lineage for astrocytes and oligodendrocytes from radial cells during spinal cord gliogenesis.