The biochemical and functional characterization of the nerve growth cone is of major interest for studies on mechanisms involved in nervous system development. We describe the isolation from fetal brain of membrane-bound fragments of nerve growth cones by density gradient fractionation. These so-called growth cone particles are highly uniform and identifiable on the basis of their organelle complement. Furthermore, they co-purify in mixing experiments with fragments of radiolabeled and light microscopically identified nerve growth cones from primary cultures. The possibility of isolating growth cone fragments in quantity renders feasible the analysis of molecular mechanisms involved in growth cone function.