The naturally occurring phospholipid lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) can induce a number of physiological responses in vertebrate cells, including platelet aggregation, smooth muscle contraction, and fibroblast proliferation. LPA is thought to activate a specific G-protein-coupled receptor, thereby triggering classic second messenger pathways such as stimulation of phospholipase C and inhibition of adenylate cyclase. Here we report that 1-oleoyl-LPA, at submicromolar concentrations, evokes a chemotactic response in amoebae of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. LPA-induced chemotaxis is specific in that other lysophospholipids, phosphatidic acid, and monoacylglycerol have no effect. We show that the response to LPA is not secondary to the accumulation of extracellular cAMP, a well-established chemoattractant for nutrient-starved D. discoideum. Compared with cAMP-induced chemotaxis, LPA-induced chemotaxis has a somewhat lower efficiency and is not accompanied by the characteristic cellular elongation and orientation along the gradient. These results indicate that LPA has a previously unsuspected role as a chemoattractant for D. discoideum and imply that its biological function as a "first messenger" is not restricted to vertebrate cells.