We report here that basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)-elicited neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells is potentiated by dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate (dbcAMP) or forskolin. This property was also described for nerve growth factor (NGF), suggesting that both NGF and bFGF may share common intracellular events leading to neurite outgrowth and synergism with dbcAMP and forskolin. The synergistic effect of dbcAMP and forskolin is specific, since treatment of PC12 cells with bFGF and dibutyryl cyclic guanosine monophosphate (dbcGMP) or phorbol ester did not change the neurite outgrowth response of cells treated with bFGF alone. Furthermore, neurite outgrowth depends on cellular adhesion. Increasing adhesion by plate treatment with poly-d-lysine increases the neurite outgrowth elicited by bFGF alone or bFGF plus dbcAMP. On the other hand, decreasing cellular adhesiveness by plating PC12 cells in semi-solid agarose renders the cells unable to develop neuritic processes. In addition, 3H-methylthymidine incorporation studies showed that bFGF-treated PC12 cells cease growth only when they become fully differentiated after 3–5 days of treatment. In contrast, dbcAMP, which is a poor differentiation factor, is able to block cellular growth after 24 hour treatment. These results suggest that when PC12 cells become differentiated, they stop growing. However, growth inhibition does not necessarily lead to differentiation.