Tactile information is perceived by a heterogeneous population of specialized neurons. Neurotrophin receptors (the receptor tyrosine kinases, Trks) mark the major classes of these sensory neurons: TrkA is expressed in neurons that sense temperature and noxious stimuli, and TrkC is expressed in proprioceptive neurons that sense body position. Neurotrophin signaling through these receptors is required for cell survival. To test whether neurotrophins have an instructive role in sensory specification, we expressed rat TrkC from the TrkA (also known as Ntrk1) locus in mice. The surviving presumptive TrkA-expressing neurons adopted a proprioceptive phenotype, indicating that neurotrophin signaling can specify sensory neuron subtypes.