Sensory nerve fibers of the cochleo-vestibular ganglion (CVG) innervate the otic epithelium in the early chick embryo by directed growth. To see if the target tissue could exert a tropic influence, we co-cultured CVGs from chick embryos (Hamburger-Hamilton stages 16–30) in a 3D collagen matrix with their normal target epithelium or with other epithelial tissues taken from the same or different stages of development. The pattern of neurite outgrowth and the viability of the CVG after five days in vitro were assessed histologically with a silver method. On the basis of the patterns of neurite outgrowth directed toward the epithelium the cultures were classified as having slightly, mostly, exclusively, or no directed outgrowth. Of 49 cultures containing otic epithelium, 33 had mostly or exclusively directed growth patterns. This effect did not depend on any particular stage difference between co-cultures or on their viability in vitro. Cultures of non-sensory otic epithelium (endolymphatic duct) also presented directed growth patterns. Co-cultures with ectoderm from forelimb or visceral arch had little, if any, directed growth. The directed growth could not be explained simply as a result of guidance by non-neuronal cells or of the viability of the explants. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the otic epithelium provides a tropic factor that attracts growing CVG fibers.