The dendritic branches (neurites) of developing neurons migrate along specific pathways to reach their targets. It has been suggested that this migration is guided by factors present on the surface of other neurons or glial cells. The molecular nature of such factors, however, remains to be elucidated. N-cadherin is a cell-surface glycoprotein which belongs to the cadherin family of cell-cell adhesion molecules. This adhesion molecule is expressed in various neuronal cells as well as in glial cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems in vertebrate embryos and recent immunological studies suggested that N-cadherin may play a role in guiding the migration of neurites on myotubes or astrocytes. To further examine this possibility, we used a molecular-genetic approach; that is, we examined the outgrowth of chicken embryonic optic axons on monolayer cultures of Neuro 2a or L cells transfected with the complementary DNA encoding chicken N-cadherin. The data indicate that N-cadherin is used as a guide molecule for the migration of optic axons on cell surfaces.