We have examined the mechanisms controlling the induction of the two NGF receptors, trkA and p75, in proliferating neuroblasts immuno-isolated from thoracolumbar embryonic sympathetic ganglia. Contrary to prior studies, we find that induction of p75 follows rather than precedes that of trkA; this late induction is consistent with the fact that p75 functions at relatively late stages of sympathetic development. trkA induction is apparently not controlled by a cell-intrinsic mechanism. Rather, this receptor is induced by environmental signals including NT-3, which also acts as an interim survival factor for these neuroblasts. trkA induction by NT-3 is consequent to its promotion of mitotic arrest, as anti-mitotic drugs also efficiently induce trkA. p75 expression is induced in trkA-expressing cells by NGF. Thus, the development of sympathetic neurons involves sequential actions of different neurotrophins, which also regulate the expression of their own and each other's receptors.