Dictyostelium is a popular experimental organism, in particular for studies of actin dynamics, cell motility and chemotaxis. We find that the motility of axenic cells is unexpectedly different from other strains during growth. In particular, vegetative AX3 cells do not show detectable localisation of SCAR and its regulatory complex to actin-rich protrusions such as filopodia and pseudopodia. Similarly, a range of different mutations, in particular knockouts of members of the SCAR complex and Ras proteins, cause different phenotypes during vegetative growth in different parental strains. Development reverses this unusual behaviour; aggregation-competent AX3 cells localise SCAR in the same way as cells of other strains and species. Studies on cell motility using vegetative cells should therefore be interpreted with caution.