The oligodendrocyte-derived extracellular matrix protein J1-160/180 displays repellent substrate properties toward neurons. In a search for neuronal ligands mediating the response to J1-160/180, we have identified the F3/11 cell surface protein, a glyco-phosphatidylinositol-anchored member of the immunoglobulin superfamily. F3/11 mediates the initial recognition between a J1-160/180 substrate and cerebellar neurons or F3-transfected CHO cells. In cerebellar neurons, the F3/11-J1-160/180 interaction induces a repulsion consisting of the loss of substrate adhesion with time in culture and inhibition of neurite outgrowth. Antibody blocking experiments show that the avoidance response of neurites at J1-160/180 substrate borders is also mediated by F3/11. Active cell-cell and cell-substrate repulsion is considered a major mechanism governing the extent and directionality of axonal growth, but the ligand-receptor interactions involved have remained unknown. Our results show that F3/11 mediates the neuronal response to the repellent molecule J1-160/180 and may thus be involved in signal transduction leading to cell repulsion.