We investigated signaling between individual nerve terminals and perisynaptic Schwann cells, the teloglial cells that cover neuromuscular junctions. When deprived of neuronal activity in vivo, either by motor nerve transection or tetrodotoxin injection, perisynaptic Schwann cells rapidly up-regulated glial fibrillary acidic protein. Addition of transcription or translation inhibitors to excised muscles prevented this increase. Stimulation of cut nerves prevented glial fibrillary acidic protein increases even when postsynaptic nicotinic receptors were blocked, but not when neurotransmitter release was blocked with omega-conotoxin GVIA. We conclude that there is a nerve terminal to glial signal, requiring presynaptic neurotransmitter release, which regulates perisynaptic Schwann cell genes. This may be a general principle since many types of glial are sensitive to transmitters applied in vitro or released in situ.