The ability of differentiating cells to migrate within the developing central nervous system (CNS) depends on extrinsic guidance signals, some of which are growth factors. In this study we have investigated the chemotactic response of cultured stem cells from the embryonic rat cortex to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Nestin-positive stem cells from the developing CNS can be maintained and expanded in vitro under serum-free conditions in the presence of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). Northern blot analysis of PDGF receptor expression revealed both α- and β-receptors on bFGF-treated neural stem cells. Both PDGF-AA and PDGF-BB readily induced directed migration of cultured neuroepithelial cells as measured in a microchemotaxis assay. Blocking of the migratory response was achieved by incubation with PDGF isoform-specific antibodies. More than 90% of the migrating cells were nestin-positive and incorporation of BrdU was also seen suggesting the cells to be immature and not yet committed to a specific cell lineage. These findings suggest a role for PDGF in cell migration in the developing cortex. J. Neurosci. Res. 53:521–530, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.