Dysregulation of cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) and cytoskeletal protein hyperphosphorylation characterizes a subset of human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC). It is thought that these cytoskeletal changes lead eventually to development of hallmark cytoskeletal lesions such as neurofibrillary tangles and axonal spheroids. Although many studies support an involvement of cdks in these neurodegenerative cascades, it is not known whether cdk activity is essential. The naturally occurring npc-1 mutant mouse mimics human NPC, in displaying activation of cdk5, mitotic cdc2, and cdk4, with concomitant cytoskeletal pathology and neurodegeneration. We availed of this model and specific pharmacological inhibitors of cdk activity, to determine whether cdks are necessary for NPC neuropathology. The inhibitors were infused intracerebroventricularly for a 2-week period, initiated at a pathologically incipient stage. While an inactive stereoisomer, iso-olomoucine, was ineffective, two potent inhibitors, roscovitine and olomoucine, attenuated significantly the hyperphosphorylation of neurofilament, tau, and mitotic proteins, reduced the number of spheroids, modulated Purkinje neuron death, and ameliorated motor defects in npc mice. These results suggest that cdk activity is required for neuropathology and subsequent motor impairment in NPC. Studies aimed at knocking down individual cdks in these mice will help identify the specific cdk(s) that are essential, and delineate their precise roles in the neurodegenerative process.