Rat embryonic mesencephalic cultures were employed to evaluate the consequences of adding GM1 ganglioside to cultures lesioned with the selective neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+). MPP+ reduced dopamine and DOPAC content, dopamine uptake, aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase activity, and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase- immunopositive neurons. The immunopositive neurons that remained were aberrant. All of these parameters were partially restored by adding GM1 ganglioside to the cultures. The response to GM1 was not altered by prior treatment of the cultures with cytosine beta-D-arabinofuranoside to reduce the number of glial cells. Dopamine uptake activity restored by GM1 was lost if GM1 was removed from the culture.