In spinal cord, oligodendrocyte precursors that give rise to myelin-forming cells originate in a restricted domain of the ventral ventricular zone. During development, these cells migrate widely throughout the spinal cord. Netrin 1 is expressed at the ventral ventricular zone during oligodendrocyte precursors emigration, and, in vitro, netrin 1 acts as chemorepellent and antagonizes platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) chemoattraction. Oligodendrocyte precursors express the netrin receptors DCC and UNC5 and function-blocking anti-DCC antibody inhibits chemorepulsion of ventral spinal cord explants and netrin-secreting cells. In spinal cord slice preparations, addition of function-blocking anti-DCC antibody or netrin 1 dramatically inhibits oligodendrocyte precursor migration from the ventral ventricular zone. These data indicate the initial dispersal of oligodendrocyte precursors from their localized origin is guided by a chemorepellent response to netrin 1.