We characterize the worldvolume theories on symmetric D-branes in a six-dimensional Cahen-Wallach pp-wave supported by a constant Neveu-Schwarz 3-form flux. We find a class of flat noncommutative Euclidean D3-branes analogous to branes in a constant magnetic field, as well as curved noncommutative Lorentzian D3-branes analogous to branes in an electric background. In the former case, the noncommutative field theory on the branes is constructed from first principles, related to dynamics of fuzzy spheres in the worldvolumes, and used to analyse the flat space limits of the string theory. The worldvolume theories on all other symmetric branes in the background are local field theories. The physical origins of all these theories are described through the interplay between isometric embeddings of branes in the spacetime and the Penrose-Güven limit of AdS3 × S 3 with Neveu-Schwarz 3-form flux. The noncommutative field theory of a non-symmetric spacetime-filling D-brane is also constructed, giving a spatially varying but time-independent noncommutativity analogous to that of the Dolan-Nappi model. © 2005 IOP Publishing Ltd.