A dense poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) film was employed as the primary material and hot-embossed with the formation of microgrooves (g-PLLA). A thin layer of Au was then deposited on the film to obtain a morphologically modified substrate (Au/g-PLLA). The Au/g-PLLA film surface was then chemically modified by imprinting octadecanethiolate (ODT) self-assembled monolayers on the upper surface (ODT/Au/g-PLLA), followed by Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptide sequences on the microgrooves (RGD_ODT/Au/g-PLLA). The surface chemistry of the as-prepared RGD_ODT/Au/g-PLLA samples was examined. The bioactivity and spreading function of Schwann cells cultured on the morphologically and chemically modified surfaces were assessed. The results demonstrate that Schwann cells adhered to the RGD/Au/g-PLLA surface and proliferated along the microgrooves without crossing over the ODT/Au/PLLA surface. The proposed film surface can be used for manipulating the outgrowth of axons by modifying and arranging a selected region to induce cell growth and to prevent cells from spreading out nondirectionally. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A:, 2011.