The neuron-restrictive silencer factor (NRSF; also known as REST for repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor) is a transcriptional repressor of multiple neuronal genes, but little is known about its function in vivo. NRSF is normally down-regulated upon neuronal differentiation. Constitutive expression of NRSF in the developing spinal cord of chicken embryos caused repression of two endogenous target genes, N-tubulin and Ng-CAM, but did not prevent overt neurogenesis. Nevertheless, commissural neurons that differentiated while constitutively expressing NRSF showed a significantly increased frequency of axon guidance errors. These data suggest that down-regulation of NRSF is necessary for the proper development of at least some classes of neurons in vivo.