Neural stem cells (NSCs) typically show efficient self-renewal and selective differentiation. Their invasion potential, however, is not well studied. In this study, Sox2-positive NSCs from the E14.5 rat cortex were found to be non-invasive and showed only limited migration in vitro. By contrast, FGF2-expanded NSCs showed a strong migratory and invasive phenotype in response to the combination of FGF2 and BMP4. Invasive NSCs expressed Podoplanin (PDPN) and p75NGFR (Ngfr) at the plasma membrane after exposure to FGF2 and BMP4. FGF2 and BMP4 together upregulated the expression of Msx1, Snail1, Snail2, Ngfr, which are all found in neural crest (NC) cells during or after epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), but not in forebrain stem cells. Invasive cells downregulated the expression of Olig2, Sox10, Egfr, Pdgfra, Gsh1/Gsx1 and Gsh2/Gsx2. Migrating and invasive NSCs had elevated expression of mRNA encoding Pax6, Tenascin C (TNC), PDPN, Hey1, SPARC, p75NGFR and Gli3. On the basis of the strongest upregulation in invasion-induced NSCs, we defined a group of five key invasion-related genes: Ngfr, Sparc, Snail1, Pdpn and Tnc. These genes were co-expressed and upregulated in seven samples of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) compared with normal human brain controls. Induction of invasion and migration led to low expression of differentiation markers and repressed proliferation in NSCs. Our results indicate that normal forebrain stem cells have the inherent ability to adopt a glioma-like invasiveness. The results provide a novel in vitro system to study stem cell invasion and a novel glioma invasion model: tumoral abuse of the developmental dorsoventral identity regulation.