During development, motion of nerve growth cones ceases on contact with particular targets. The signaling mechanism is unknown. In culture, growth cone collapse can be caused by solubilized embryonic brain membranes, central nervous system myelin, a 35-kilodalton protein isolated from myelin, and mastoparan. Collapse induced by each of these is blocked by pertussis toxin. Thus, collapse of growth cones is mediated by G protein-coupled receptors, which may be activated by proteins associated with the cell surface as well as by soluble ligands.