We have isolated mammalian neural crest cells using a monoclonal antibody to the low affinity NGF receptor, and established conditions for the serial propagation of these cells in clonal culture to assess their developmental potential. This analysis indicates that, first, single mammalian neural crest cells are multipotent, able to generate at least neurons and Schwann cells like their avian counterparts. Second, multipotent neural crest cells generate multipotent progeny, indicating that they are capable of self-renewal and therefore are stem cells. Third, multipotent neural crest cells also generate some clonal progeny that form only neurons or glia, suggesting the production of committed neuroblasts and glioblasts. Manipulation of the substrate alters the fate of the multipotent cells. These findings have implications for models of neural crest development in vivo, and establish a system for studying the generation of cellular diversity by a multipotent stem cell in vitro.