© 2018 The Author(s) Through three-dimensional STORM super-resolution microscopy, we resolve the spectrin-actin-based membrane cytoskeleton of neural stem cells (NSCs) and NSC-derived neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. We show that undifferentiated NSCs are capable of forming patches of locally periodic, one-dimensional (1D) membrane cytoskeleton with ∼180 nm periodicity. Such periodic structures become increasingly ordered and long-ranging as the NSCs mature into terminally differentiated neuronal and glial cell types, and, during this process, distinct 1D periodic “strips” dominate the flat 2D membranes. Moreover, we report remarkable alignment of the periodic cytoskeletons between abutting cells at axon-axon and axon-oligodendrocyte contacts and identify two adhesion molecules, neurofascin and L1CAM, as candidates to drive this nanoscale alignment. We thus show that a conserved 1D periodic membrane cytoskeletal motif serves as a nanoscale scaffold and ruler to mediate the physical interactions between cell types of the NSC lineage. Hauser et al. employ three-dimensional STORM super-resolution microscopy to resolve the actin-spectrin-based membrane cytoskeleton in neural stem cells (NSCs) and NSC-derived neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, revealing a highly conserved one-dimensional periodic cytoskeletal motif that serves as a nanoscale scaffold and ruler for intercellular interactions.