Phosphatidic acid (PA) is one of the phospholipids composing the plasma membrane and acts as a second messenger to regulate a wide variety of important cellular events, including mitogenesis, migration and differentiation. PA consists of various molecular species with different acyl chains at the sn-1 and sn-2 positions. However, it has been poorly understood what PA molecular species are produced during such cellular events. Here we identified the PA molecular species generated during retinoic acid (RA)-induced neuroblastoma cell differentiation using a newly established liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) method. Intriguingly, the amount of 32:0-PA species was dramatically and transiently increased in Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cells 24-48 h after RA-treatment. In addition, 30:0- and 34:0-PA species were also moderately increased. Moreover, similar results were obtained when Neuro-2a cells were differentiated for 24 h by serum starvation. MS/MS analysis revealed that 32:0-PA species contains two palmitic acids (16:0 s). RT-PCR analysis showed that diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) δ and DGKζ were highly expressed in Neuro-2a cells. The silencing of DGKζ expression significantly decreased the production of 32:0-PA species, whereas DGKδ-siRNA did not. Moreover, neurite outgrowth was also markedly attenuated by the deficiency of DGKζ. Taken together, these results indicate that DGKζ exclusively generates very restricted PA species, 16:0/16:0-PA, and up-regulates neurite outgrowth during the initial/early stage of neuroblastoma cell differentiation.