In this paper, we describe interactions between neural cells and the conducting polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) toward development of electrically conductive biomaterials intended for direct, functional contact with electrically active tissues such as the nervous system, heart, and skeletal muscle. We introduce a process for polymerizing PEDOT around living cells and describe a neural cell-templated conducting polymer coating for microelectrodes and a hybrid conducting polymer-live neural cell electrode. We found that neural cells could be exposed to working concentrations (0.01 m) of the EDOT monomer for as long as 72 h while maintaining 80% cell viability. PEDOT could be electrochemically deposited around neurons cultured on electrodes using 0.5-1 microA/mm(2) galvanostatic current. PEDOT polymerized on the electrode and surrounded the cells, covering cell processes. The polymerization was impeded in regions where cells were well adhered to the substrate. The cells could be removed from the PEDOT matrix to generate a neural cell-templated biomimetic conductive substrate with cell-shaped features that were cell attracting. Live cells embedded within the conductive polymer matrix remained viable for at least 120 h following polymerization. Dying cells primarily underwent apoptotic cell death. PEDOT, PEDOT+live neurons, and neuron-templated PEDOT coatings on electrodes significantly enhanced the electrical properties as compared to the bare electrode as indicated by decreased electrical impedance of 1-1.5 orders of magnitude at 0.01-1 kHz and significantly increased charge transfer capacity. PEDOT coatings showed a decrease of the phase angle of the impedance from roughly 80 degrees for the bare electrode to 5-35 degrees at frequencies >0.1 kHz. Equivalent circuit modeling indicated that PEDOT-coated electrodes were best described by R(C(RT)) circuit. We found that an RC parallel circuit must be added to the model for PEDOT+live neuron and neuron-templated PEDOT coatings.