The ever-unfolding biology of NGF is consistent with a target-derived retrograde mode of action in peripheral and central neurons. However, another member of the neurotrophin family, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is present within nerve terminals in certain regions of the brain and PNS that do not contain the corresponding mRNA. Recent studies have shown that the endogenous neurotrophins, BDNF and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), are transported anterogradely by central and peripheral neurons. The supply of BDNF by afferents is consistent with their presynaptic synthesis, vesicular storage, release and postsynaptic actions. Anterograde axonal transport provides an 'afferent supply' of BDNF and NT-3 to neurons and target tissues, where they function as trophic factors and as neurotransmitters.