The development and structural plasticity of dendritic arbors are governed by several factors, including synaptic activity, neurotrophins and other growth-regulating molecules. The signal transduction pathways leading to dendritic structural changes are unknown, but likely include cytoskeleton regulatory components. To test whether GTPases regulate dendritic arbor development, we collected time-lapse images of single optic tectal neurons in albino Xenopus tadpoles expressing dominant negative or constitutively active forms of Rac, Cdc42 or RhoA. Analysis of images collected at two-hour intervals over eight hours indicated that enhanced Rac activity selectively increased branch additions and retractions, as did Cdc42 to a lesser extent. Activation of endogenous RhoA decreased branch extension without affecting branch additions and retractions, whereas dominant-negative RhoA increased branch extension. Finally, we provide data suggesting that RhoA mediates the promotion of normal dendritic arbor development by NMDA receptor activation.