A rat pheochromocytoma cell line (PC12) transfected with ganglioside GD3 synthase gene showed a marked change in the ganglioside profile and enhanced proliferation and no response of neurite extension to nerve growth factor (NGF) stimulation. In these transfectant cells, a continuous phosphorylation of TrkA and the activation of ERK1/2 without NGF treatment were observed. Proliferation inhibition experiments with kinase inhibitors such as herbimycin A, K-252a, and PD98059 revealed that the enhanced proliferation was actually due to the activation of the Ras/MEK/ERK pathway. A TrkA dimer was detected in the GD3 synthase transfectant cells regardless of NGF treatment by crosslinking and immunoblotting. The increased expression of GD1b and GT1b in these transfectant cells might induce the conformational change of TrkA to form a dimer and to be activated continuously. These results may indicate regulatory roles of gangliosides in cell proliferation under physiological and malignant processes.