Mutations in the human presenilin genes cause the most frequent and aggressive forms of familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). Here we show that in addition to its role in cell fate decisions in non-neuronal tissues, presenilin activity is required in terminally differentiated neurons in vivo. Mutations in the Caenorhabditis elegans presenilin genes sel-12 and hop-1 result in a defect in the temperature memory of the animals. This defect is caused by the loss of presenilin function in two cholinergic interneurons that display neurite morphology defects in presenilin mutants. The morphology and function of the affected neurons in sel-12 mutant animals can be restored by expressing sel-12 only in these cells. The wild-type human presenilin PS1, but not the FAD mutant PS1 A246E, can also rescue these morphological defects. As lin-12 mutant animals display similar morphological and functional defects to presenilin mutants, we suggest that presenilins mediate their activity in postmitotic neurons by facilitating Notch signalling. These data indicate cell-autonomous and evolutionarily conserved control of neural morphology and function by presenilins.