Myelination depends on the proper differentiation of oligodendrocytes and several factors may influence this event. For instance, thyroid hormone (T3) affects the timing of differentiation and regulates the expression of several enzymes involved in the synthesis of complex lipids and in the expression of some myelin structural proteins. We investigated the effect of T3 deficiency on oligodendroglial differentiation and in the distribution of oligodendrocyte/myelin proteins 2'3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNPase) and myelin basic protein (MBP). Oligodendroglial-enriched cultures were obtained from cerebra of neonate rats grown in a modified medium. The T3-deficient status was induced by using medium devoid of T3. We observed a delay, in T3-deficient cultures, in oligodendroglial maturation characterized by less extensive processes and membrane vellum than in controls. In control cultures, CNPase immunoreactivity was punctated, showing cell bodies and processes at earlier stages and redistribution to cytoskeleton vein-like structures in later stages. In T3-deficient cultures, CNPase remained in a punctated pattern and only at 10 days in vitro we observed CNPase redistribution to the presumptive cytoskeleton vein-like structures. MBP in control cultures was distributed through the whole cell body and processes whereas in T3-deficient cultures, MBP immunoreactivity was concentrated in the perinuclear region. These results reinforce the hypothesis that T3 is an important factor in oligodendrocyte differentiation, particularly regarding the distribution of myelin proteins.