We have examined the expression of Thy-1, an abundant glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoprotein, in dorsal root ganglia (DRC) and associated nerve fascicles, during postnatal development and following a nerve crush. The expression levels of Thy-1 in DRG neurons, dorsal roots, and central processes in spinal cord were rather low at postnatal day 2, and gradually increased as DRG neurons matured. During early development, the expression of Thy-1 within DRG neurons was low and equally distributed between plasma membrane and cytosol. With maturation, the staining intensities of Thy-1 in both the plasma membrane and the cytosol of DRG neurons became increased. We also studied Thy-1 expression in the regeneration of mature DRG neurons following the crush injury of sciatic nerve. Two days after the crush injury, Thy-1 expression dramatically decreased in the DRG neurons on the lesion side. Between 4 and 7 days after the injury, the expression of Thy-1 gradually increased and returned to a normal level 1 week after the sciatic nerve crush. The time course of the up-regulation of Thy-1 expression during regeneration matched that of the recovery of sensory functions, such as pain withdraw reflex, placing reflex, and the score of Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan Locomotor Rating Scale. Taken together, our results suggest that Thy-1 expression is developmentally regulated and is closely associated with the functional maturation of DRG neurons during both postnatal development and nerve regeneration. Furthermore, perturbation of Thy-1 function with anti-Thy-1 antibodies promoted neurite outgrowth from primary cultured DRG neurons, again confirming the inhibitory role of Thy-1 on neurite outgrowth.