To identify glial membrane proteins that contribute to the process of neuronal migration in the developing brain, we developed a polyclonal antiserum (D4) and a monoclonal antibody (NJPA1: neuron-glial junctional polypeptide antibody) that recognize membrane proteins localized to the plasmalemmal junction between migrating neurons and adjacent radial glial fibers (Cameron and Rakic, 1994). Here, we show that in the developing cerebral cortex, immunoreactivity for these junctional polypeptides is present throughout the neuronal migratory pathway but becomes minimal or absent where radial glial cell processes enter the marginal zone region, the barrier at which newly arrived neurons normally stop their migration and detach from their glial fiber substrate. We thus tested, using imprints of embryonic cerebral wall and slice preparations, whether the junctional membrane proteins detected by our antibodies contribute to the regulation of neuronal migration in the cerebral cortex. The rate of neuronal migration on glial cell substrates was reduced significantly in the presence of D4 or NJPA1 antibodies. Antibody exposure typically led to the withdrawal of leading processes, changes in microtubular organization and, in some instances, to detachment of neurons from their glial cell substrates. These results suggest that the polypeptides recognized by the D4 and NJPA1 antibodies are essential for the maintenance of normal neuronal migration. Dismantling of neuron-glial cell junctional domains formed by these membrane proteins may underlie neuronal cell detachment from glial migratory substrates at the interface between cortical plate and marginal zone in the developing cerebral wall.