In an attempt to integrate biological components with silicon-based devices and systems, artificial silane surfaces have been successfully used to grow motoneurons in a defined environment. In this study we characterized the morphology and electrophysiology of purified rat embryonic (E14) motoneurons grown on a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of N-1[3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl]diethylenetriamine (DETA) versus that on ornithine/laminin surfaces in serum-free media. On DETA motoneurons were flat and grew more processes, whereas on ornithine/laminin they tended to aggregate. The membrane time constant, a characteristic associated with electrotonic compactness, was significantly longer for motoneurons grown on DETA. Other electrophysiological parameters were similar for the motoneurons on the different surfaces. This is the first study where purified ventral horn motoneurons were cultured in a completely defined (nonbiological surface, serum-free) environment.