Neurite outgrowth is guided by narrow pathways of bioactive laminin. These pathways are created by ultraviolet light irradiation of laminin‐coated coverslips masked with electron microscope grids. Patterned outgrowth of neurites is independent of gross mechanical guidance and guidance caused by substrate limitation. Cells on unirradiated laminin are less readily displaced by shear forces than cells on irradiated laminin. This study suggests that ultraviolet light alters the adhesive properties of laminin and that differential cell‐substratum adhesion may guide extending neurites on the purified naturally occurring substance, laminin.