Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a simple phospholipid derived from cell membranes that has extracellular signaling properties mediated by at least five G protein-coupled receptors referred to as LPA(1)-LPA(5). In the nervous system, receptor-mediated LPA signaling has been demonstrated to influence a range of cellular processes; however, an unaddressed aspect of LPA signaling is its potential to produce specific secondary effects, whereby LPA receptor-expressing cells exposed to, or "primed," by LPA may then act on other cells via distinct, yet LPA-initiated, mechanisms. In the present study, we examined cerebral cortical astrocytes as possible indirect mediators of the effects of LPA on developing cortical neurons. Cultured astrocytes express at least four LPA receptor subtypes, known as LPA(1)-LPA(4). Cerebral cortical astrocytes primed by LPA exposure were found to increase neuronal differentiation of cortical progenitor cells. Treatment of unprimed astrocyte-progenitor cocultures with conditioned medium derived from LPA-primed astrocytes yielded similar results, suggesting the involvement of an astrocyte-derived soluble factor induced by LPA. At least two LPA receptor subtypes are involved in LPA priming, since the priming effect was lost in astrocytes derived from LPA receptor double-null mice (LPA(1)((-/-))/LPA(2)((-/-))). Moreover, the loss of LPA-dependent differentiation in receptor double-null astrocytes could be rescued by retrovirally transduced expression of a single deleted receptor. These data demonstrate that receptor-mediated LPA signaling in astrocytes can induce LPA-dependent, indirect effects on neuronal differentiation.