It has long been suspected that proteolytic activity associated with advancing growth cones may be required for axon extension. We have isolated mutations in the kuzbanian (kuz) gene, which is expressed in the nervous system and encodes a putative zinc metalloprotease with a disintegrin domain. Drosophila embryos with loss-of-function mutations in kuz have dramatic defects in the development of central nervous system axon pathways, with many axons stalling and failing to extend through the nerve cord. This phenotype is rescued by panneural expression of kuz mRNA in the embryo. These results show that the Kuz metalloprotease is required for axon extension, suggesting a requirement for proteolytic activity at the growth cone surface.