The pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide type-1 receptor (PAC1) has been involved in the survival and differentiation of neuroblasts during development. This study examined the effects of various neurotrophins on the activity of the mouse PAC1 promoter/luciferase reporter constructs in rat PC12 cells and in 8-day-old mouse cerebellar granule cells. In PC12 cells, both differentiating factors such as nerve growth factor (NGF) and mitogens such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) up-regulated PAC1 promoter activity by 2–4-fold in a concentration-dependent manner. Although PACAP differentiated the PC12 cells, it had no effect on the PAC1 promoter and antagonized the stimulatory effect of NGF. In cerebellar granule cells, IGF-1 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also stimulated the activity of the PAC1 promoter. NGF and IGF-1 increased endogenous PAC1 mRNA levels, and the NGF-induced up-regulation is the result of an increase in transcription from PAC1 promoter instead of an increase in mRNA stability. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase inhibitor, PD98059, prevented the transcriptional effects both in PC12 and cerebellar granule cells. Moreover, expression of dominant-negative Ras protein in PC12 cells also prevented the NGF effect. Our results show that the PAC1 promoter can be up-regulated by diverse neurotrophins via an MAPK-dependent pathway and suggest a role for the Ras protein.