Intraparenchymal migration of macrophages occurs in the CNS during development or as a consequence of tissue injuries. In the present study, we have shown, by using an in vitro chemotaxis assay, that cultured rat astrocytes obtained from the developing cerebral cortex and striatum produce soluble factors, which attract purified brain macrophages. The effect of astrocyte-derived factors on macrophages was strongly reduced in the presence of antibodies neutralizing colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF-1, also called M-CSF), and recombinant CSF-1 was found to act as a chemotactic agent on brain macrophages. Synthesis of CSF-1 by cultured astrocytes was confirmed by northern detection of CSF-1 transcripts. In contrast, the CSF-1 gene was not expressed by cultured neurons from the cerebral cortex and striatum or by the brain macrophage population responsive to CSF-1 gradient. ELISA detection of CSF-1 in tissue extracts revealed the occurrence of this cytokine in the rat cerebral cortex during postnatal development and in adults. Altogether, our results demonstrate that astrocytes, through CSF-1 secretion, can trigger the polarized migration of brain macrophages and suggest a new mechanism which could regulate the locomotion of these cells in the cerebral cortex during ontogenesis or following lesions.