A glia-derived neurite-promoting factor has been purified from medium conditioned by C6 rat glioma cells. It induces neurite outgrowth in cultured mouse neuroblastoma cells and inhibits granule cell migration in explants of mouse cerebellum. This factor is a potent serine protease inhibitor which has recently been shown to belong to the protease nexin family. It has therefore been called glia-derived nexin (GDN). We report here that GDN also promotes neurite outgrowth in dissociated chick superior cervical ganglion neurons grown in serum-free medium. In these neurons, the presence of nerve growth factor is not required for the stimulatory effect of GDN in the initial phase of neurite outgrowth. These experiments demonstrate that a glia-derived protein with protease inhibitory activity can modulate neurite outgrowth in cultured chick sympathetic neurons.