The microkinematic response of axons to mechanical stretch was examined in the developing chick embryo spinal cord during a period of rapid growth and myelination. Spinal cords were isolated at different days of embryonic (E) development post-fertilization (E12, E14, E16, and E18) and stretched 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%, respectively. During this period, the spinal cord grew 55% in length, and white matter tracts were myelinated significantly. The spinal cords were fixed with paraformaldehyde at the stretched length, sectioned, stained immunohistochemically for neurofilament proteins, and imaged with epifluorescence microscopy. Axons in unstretched spinal cords were undulated, or tortuous, to varying degrees, and appeared to straighten with stretch. The degree of tortuosity (ratio of the segment’s pathlength to its end-to-end length) was quantified in each spinal cord by tracing several hundred randomly selected axons. The change in tortuosity distributions with stretch indicated that axons switched from non-affine, uncoupled behavior at low stretch levels to affine, coupled behavior at high stretch levels, which was consistent with previous reports of axon behavior in the adult guinea pig optic nerve (Bain, Shreiber, and Meaney, J. Biomech. Eng., 125(6), pp. 798–804). A mathematical model previously proposed by Bain was applied to quantify the transition in kinematic behavior. The results indicated that significant percentages of axons demonstrated purely non-affine behavior at each stage, but that this percentage decreased from 64% at E12 to 30% at E18. The decrease correlated negatively to increases in both length and myelination with development, but the change in axon kinematics could not be explained by stretch applied during physical growth of the spinal cord. The relationship between tissue-level and axonal-level deformation changes with development, which can have important implications in the response to physiological forces experienced during growth and trauma.