A major challenge in systems neuroscience is to perform precise molecular genetic analyses of a single neuronal population in the context of the complex mammalian brain. Existing technologies for profiling cell type-specific gene expression are largely limited to immature or morphologically identifiable neurons. In this study, we developed a simple method using fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) to purify genetically labeled neurons from juvenile and adult mouse brains for gene expression profiling. We identify and verify a new set of differentially expressed genes in the striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons, two functionally and clinically important projection neuron subtypes in the basal ganglia. We further demonstrate that Ebf1 is a lineage-specific transcription factor essential to the differentiation of striatonigral neurons. Our study provides a general approach for profiling cell type-specific gene expression in the mature mammalian brain and identifies a set of genes critical to the function and dysfunction of the striatal projection neuron circuit.