Stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1), a member of the chemotactic cytokine family, has attracted attention in recent years. It participates in diverse processes such as the regulation of neuronal migration and activation of CD4+ T cells; it is also a co-receptor for human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1). Here, we show that the proliferation of neural progenitor cells dissociated from rat cortex and cultured in vitro with basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is stimulated by SDF-1. PD98059 and wortmannin, which are, respectively, specific inhibitors of the extracellular regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2) and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI-3K) signal pathways, markedly attenuate this stimulation of proliferation. These findings indicate that SDF-1 acutely promotes the proliferation of NPCs in vitro involving the ERK1/2 and PI-3 kinase pathways, suggesting that it plays a basic role in the development of neural progenitors.