G protein-coupled membrane receptors activate G proteins by enhancing guanine nucleotide exchange. G0 is a major component of the growing regions (growth cones) of neurons. GAP-43 is a neuronal protein associated with the cytosolic face of the growth cone plasma membrane and stimulates binding of guanosine 5'-3-O-(thio)triphosphate (GTP gamma S) to Go (Strittmatter, S. M., Valenzuela, D., Kennedy, T. E., Neer, E. J., and Fishman, M. C. (1990) Nature 344, 836-841). Here we have examined the mechanism by which GAP-43 affects G0. Like G protein-coupled receptors, GAP-43 enhances GDP release from G0, increases the initial rate of GTP gamma S binding, and increases the GTPase activity of Go, all without altering the intrinsic kappa cat for the GTPase. Unlike the case for receptors, however, the GAP-43 effect is not blocked by pertussis toxin, nor affected by the presence or absence of beta gamma or of phospholipids. There is specificity to the interaction, in that GAP-43 increases GTP gamma S binding to recombinant alpha o and alpha i1, but not to recombinant alpha s. Thus, GAP-43 is a guanine nucleotide release protein with a novel mechanism of action, potentially controlling membrane-associated G proteins from within the cell.