Models of astrocyte differentiation stress a lineage program that involves a progressive loss of astroglial support of neuronal differentiation. These models predict that astroglial promotion of neurite extension declines with the “age” of the astrocyte. An alternative view is that astroglial support of neurite growth is regulated by epigenetic factors that induce the cells either to differentiate and support neuronal functions or to undergo cell proliferation and fail to support neurons. To compare the contribution of astroglial cell “age” to astroglial support of neurite extension, mouse cerebellar astroglia were maintained in vitro for 3–90 d, and assayed for their ability to support neurite formation. When cultured in isolation, astroglial support of neurite extension declined with time in vitro, as assayed by quantifying outgrowth from explants of pontine nuclei, falling from a robust level just after the astroglia were harvested to negligible levels 21–90 d later. Since previous studies have shown that neurons can change the state of astroglial cells (Hatten, 1985), we tested the neurite promoting activity of astroglia that were cultured for 21–90 d in vitro and subsequently induced to differentiate by the addition of neurons. When granule neurons were added to aged astroglia and pontine explants plated 2 d later, neurite growth from the explants was exuberant, regardless of the time astroglia spent in vitro prior to the addition of neurons. The state of astroglia that were growth promoting or growth inhibiting was examined by bromodeoxyuridine staining and with antisera to glial filament protein. Aged astroglia cultured alone and thus inhibitory to axon growth, proliferated at high rates and had polygonal shapes. In contrast, aged astroglia to which neurons had been added, proliferated at low rates and developed process-bearing stellate shapes. To test further whether proliferation levels related to the growth-supporting properties of astroglia, astroglia were plated alone in medium without serum, or with the addition of transforming growth factor-beta 1, each treatment known to arrest proliferation. In both cases, promotion of neurite growth was restored in aged astroglia, but the morphology of astroglia did not correlate with the ability to support neurite growth. Finally, the growth-inhibiting properties of aged astroglia do not appear to be mediated by diffusible factors, and require close apposition with living astroglial cells. We conclude that astroglial support of neurite extension depends on the state of differentiation of astroglial cells, and that these properties can be modified by coculture with neurons or conditions that arrest of astroglial proliferation, irrespective of astroglial “age”.