The cytoplasmic adaptor protein Disabled-1 (Dab1), which is a key component of the Reelin-signaling pathway, has been suggested to be required for neuronal dendritic development. However, only data from studies on immature cultures [< or = 6 days in vitro (DIV)] and cytoarchitectural analyses of mutant mice have been used to formulate this hypothesis. Therefore, to determine if Reelin-Dab1 signaling is specifically required for neurons to develop mature dendrites in respect to length and complexity, we analyzed dendritic development in mature cultures derived from Dab1 knockout (ko) embryos. No significant differences in dendritic length or complexity between Dab1 ko and wt cultures were found at 20 DIV. An examination of dendritic development in maturing cultures found significant differences in dendritic length between mutant and wt cultures at 4 DIV, but detected no differences in complexity. In addition, by 7 DIV, all measures were statistically the same between cultures. Therefore, although Reelin-Dab1 signaling promotes hippocampal dendrite development, Dab1 is not required for neurons to reach maturity with respect to dendritic length and complexity. Furthermore, analyses of 4 DIV cultures derived from Dab1 heterozygotes or mice that express only the natural splice form of Dab1 (p45) found that Dab1(p45/-) hemizygote, but not Dab1(p45/p45) and Dab1 heterozygote cultures had significantly shorter dendrites than those in wt cultures. Thus, a substantial attenuation of the Reelin-Dab1 signal is required before dendrite elongation is significantly decreased at 4 DIV. Moreover, experiments that incorporated a Reelin-neutralizing antibody support the hypothesis that the role(s) Reelin-signaling plays in dendritic maturation is different than the one it has in neuronal positioning.