Neurite formation, an essential feature of neuronal development, is believed to involve participation of the ras-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (cAMP/PKA)-mediated signaling pathways. These pathways have been studied extensively in the rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12, and current hypotheses suggest a single effector mechanism resulting from the convergence of cAMP/PKA and MAPK signaling. However, based on observations using a central neuronal progenitor cell line, AS583-8, there also exists evidence that the two signaling pathways may act independently resulting in neurites with differing dynamic features. In the present study, the upstream components of cAMP/PKA signaling were examined in AS583-8 cells as well as possible interactions with the MAPK pathway. We found that activation of PKA is both necessary and sufficient for the elaboration of rapidly forming processes, typical of the cAMP response. In addition, blockade of the MAPK pathway has no effect on the cAMP response, suggesting that activation of the cAMP/PKA pathway can stimulate neurite formation independent of the MAPK pathway. In order to evaluate which cell line model, PC12 vs AS583-8, best reflects the signaling features of developing central neurons, we examined interactions between cAMP/PKA and MAPK signaling in primary neuronal cultures from several brain regions. In immature cultures (1-day-old), at a point where the initiation of neurite formation is maximal, no interaction was observed. In more mature cultures (7 days old), where synaptic contacts have been established, we found a weak but reproducible activation of MAPK following stimulation of the cAMP/PKA pathway. These results suggest that cAMP/PKA and MAPK signaling act independently at the initiation of neuritogenesis but become coupled during later stages of neuronal development. Therefore, the interaction of the two pathways may be cell stage (younger vs older) specific and may participate in cellular functions that take place after initial neurite formation.