Although new culture conditions enable homogeneous and long-term propagation of radial glia-like neural stem (NS) cells in monolayer and serum-free conditions, the efficiency of the conversion of NS cells into terminally differentiated, functionally mature neurons is relatively limited and poorly characterized. We demonstrate that NS cells derived from adult mouse subventricular zone robustly develop properties of mature neurons when exposed to an optimized neuronal differentiation protocol. A high degree of cell viability was preserved. At 22 days in vitro, most cells (65%) were microtubule-associated protein 2(+) and coexpressed gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), GAD67, calbindin and parvalbumin. Nearly all neurons exhibited sodium, potassium and calcium currents, and 70% of them fired action potentials. These neurons expressed functional GABA(A) receptors, whereas activable kainate, alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptors were present in approximately 80, 30 and 2% of cells, respectively. Antigenic and functional properties were efficiently and reliably reproduced across experiments and cell passages (up to 68). This is the first report showing a consistent and reproducible generation of large amounts of neurons from long-term passaged adult neural stem cells. Remarkably, the neuronal progeny carries a defined set of antigenic, biochemical and functional characteristics that make this system suitable for studies of NS cell biology as well as for genetic and chemical screenings.