Prenatal hypoxia affects neuronal survival and process outgrowth. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which influences neural growth, is decreased in these conditions. We tested whether addition of brain-derived neurotrophic factor enhances growth of neurons cultured from guinea pig fetuses (n=7) compromised by chronic placental insufficiency from 30-52 days gestation (term approximately 67 days). Cultures were prepared from the olfactory bulb, hippocampus and cerebellum. Compared with controls (n=7), chronic placental insufficiency resulted in reduced total neurite length in olfactory bulb cultures. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment for 5 days increased the total olfactory neurite length and somal size and number of primary neurites in all cultures from both control and compromised animals. Thus, brain-derived neurotrophic factor can influence the growth of compromised fetal neurons supporting its therapeutic use following chronic placental insufficiency.