The anatomical and functional characteristics of dopamine neuron-rich grafts implanted into rat pups were compared with those of identical grafts implanted into adult hosts. The host nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway was unilaterally destroyed by an intrahypothalamic injection of 6-hydroxydopamine. This was followed five days later by the implantation of a cellular suspension obtained from rat embryonic mesencephali. Identical operations were carried out on adult and infant (PD3) rats. The survival rate of implanted tyrosine hydroxylase-positive cells was lower in the neonates. On the other hand, in the neonate hosts, surviving immunoreactive cells migrated extensively throughout the host striatum coursing preferentially below the corpus callosum and towards the subependymal zone. The structural integrity of the host parenchyma was well maintained after the neonatal implantation, in contrast to that observed in the adults. Despite a difference in the cell survival rate, there was no major difference in reinnervation density between the two types of host. The functional capacities of the implants were evaluated by measuring the rotational responses of the animals to dopaminergic agonists. The implants compensated the lesion-induced contralateral rotational response to the mixed agonist apomorphine and the D1 agonist SCH-38393 in both neonates and adults. However, the response to the D2 agonist LY-171555 was not significantly attenuated by the implant. The ipsilateral rotational response to amphetamine observed in the lesioned animals was also compensated and even reversed by the graft. It is concluded that with respect to rotational behavior, similar functional benefits were observed following adult stage or neonatal implantation, despite differences in their anatomical development.