The neuronal growth-associated protein GAP-43 is expressed during axonal outgrowth and regeneration (for review, see Benowitz and Routtenberg, 1987). In the present study, we demonstrate that GAP-43 is constitutively expressed by NB2a/d1 neuroblastoma cells. The initial, most rapid outgrowth period of neuritogenesis [0–4 hr after dibutyryl adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (dbcAMP) treatment] is accompanied by intense GAP-43 immunoreactivity along the entire length of most neurites. However, this immunoreactivity declined nearly to background levels within hours during continued neurite outgrowth and persisted only at varicosities and growth cones. GAP-43 was detectable by metabolic labeling and immunoblot analysis in undifferentiated cells, and synthetic rates and steady-state levels of GAP-43 underwent only a modest (approximately twofold) increase during dbcAMP-induced differentiation. Unlike levels observed in neurites, perikarya of undifferentiated and differentiated cells contained similar, intense levels of GAP-43 immunoreactivity. Neurite elaboration and GAP-43 immunoreactivity were unaffected by treatment with cycloheximide, suggesting that translocation of perikaryal GAP-43 pools, rather than de novo synthesis, contributes to the transient burst of GAP-43 observed in developing neurites. Phosphatidylcholine-mediated delivery of anti-GAP-43 antibodies (alpha GAP) into cells immediately before dbcAMP treatment arrested neuritogenesis but did not induce the retraction of existing neurites. These results indicate that, while GAP- 43 expression is insufficient to induce neuritogenesis in NB2a/d1 cells, GAP-43 is nevertheless essential for the initial, dynamic phase of neurite outgrowth.