The poor survival rate (5-20%) of grafted embryonic dopamine (DA) neurons is one of the primary factors preventing cell replacement from becoming a viable treatment for Parkinson's disease. Previous studies have demonstrated that graft volume impacts grafted DA neuron survival, indicating that transplant parameters influence survival rates. However, the effects of mesencephalic cell concentration on grafted DA neuron survival have not been investigated. The current study compares the survival rates of DA neurons in grafts of varying concentrations. Mesencephalic cell suspensions derived from E14 Fisher 344 rat pups were concentrated to 25,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000 cells/microl and transplanted into two 0.5 microl sites in the 6-OHDA-denervated rat striatum. Animals were sacrificed 10 days and 6 weeks post-transplantation for histochemical analysis of striatal grafts. The absolute number of DA neurons per graft increased proportionally to the total number of cells transplanted. However, our results show that the 200,000 cells/microl group exhibited significantly higher survival rates (5.48+/-0.83%) compared to the 25,000 cells/microl (2.81+/-0.39%) and 50,000 cells/microl (3.36+/-0.51%) groups (p=0.02 and 0.03, respectively). Soma size of grafted DA neurons in the 200,000 cells/microl group was significantly larger than that of the 25,000 cells/microl (p<0.0001) and 50,000 cells/microl groups (p=0.004). In conclusion, increasing the concentration of mesencephalic cells prior to transplantation, augments the survival and functionality of grafted DA neurons. These data have the potential to identify optimal transplantation parameters that can be applied to procedures utilizing stem cells, neural progenitors, and primary mesencephalic cells.