CNS myelin contains 2 membrane proteins that are potent inhibitors of neurite growth (NI-35 and NI-250). Because myelin formation starts at different times in different regions and tracts of the CNS, this inhibitory property of myelin could serve boundary and guidance functions for late-growing fiber tracts. In the rat, the corticospinal tract (CST) grows into and down the spinal cord during the first 10 postnatal days, in close proximity to the sensory tracts fasciculus cuneatus and gracilis. Immunofluorescence for myelin constituents showed that, in the rostral half of the spinal cord, the myelinating tissue of these ascending tracts surrounds the growing, myelin-free CST in a channellike fashion. Elimination of oligodendrocytes by x- irradiation of the newborn rats, or application of antibody IN-1, which neutralizes the inhibitory substrate property of CNS myelin, resulted in significant anatomical aberration of CST fibers. In particular, the tract was larger in cross-section, and aberrant CST fibers and fascicles intermixed with the neighboring sensory ascending tracts. These results assign an important channeling and “guard-rail” function to the oligodendrocyte-associated neurite growth inhibitors for the developing CST in the rat spinal cord.