Manganese is essential for normal development and activity of the nervous tissue. Mn2+ ions are involved in protein synthesis and may prevent free radical damage. Since it is now established that alcohol degradation may produce free radicals, we studied the effect of Mn2+ on ethanol induced alterations using cultured nerve cells as an experimental model of the central nervous system. Neurons and glial cells were cultured from rat brain cortex; a tumoral rat glial cell line (C6) was also examined. We measured enzymatic markers of nerve cell maturation (enolase, glutamine synthetase) and superoxide dismutase, a scavenger of free radicals; all these enzymes being activated by Mn2+ ions. Only for the glial cell types an alcohol antagonizing effect was found when Mn2+ was combined with ethanol. Neurons were not sensitive to that Mn2+ effect.