Early postnatal developmental changes in N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NR) subunits regulate cerebellar granule cell maturation and potentially Purkinje cell development. We therefore investigated Purkinje cell morphology in slice cultures from mice with genetic subunit exchange from NR2C to NP2B (NRX-2B). NR2C-2B Purkinje cells after 12 days in vitro showed a significantly impaired dendritic arbour complexity with reduced branching density as compared to wild-type cells, a phenotype that was reversed by NMDA treatment. These data support the concept that in cerebellar slice cultures, Purkinje cell dendritic outgrowth is regulated by granule cell inputs. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.