The thyroid functions of breastfed infants, as well as (indirectly) the development of their central nervous system, are dependent on the iodine status of the lactating mother. Purkinje cell protein-2 is a cell-specific marker of the cerebellum Purkinje cell and is a suitable indicator for observing the postnatal development of the cerebellum after birth. We measured the Purkinje cell protein-2 mRNA and protein levels in the rat cerebellum in the critical postnatal (14 days after birth) and maturation periods (28 days after birth) to determine the effect of different nutritional iodine levels on cerebellum growth in the offspring during lactation. We found that severe iodine deficiency resulted in thyroid dysfunction in lactating rats and their offspring on both 14 and 28 days, showing maternal total T(4) 16.7 ± 12.0 vs 36.4 ± 15.0, P < 0.05 (14 days) and 22.6 ± 18.7 vs 53.4 ± 9.4, P < 0.01 (28 days), and neonatal total T(4) 10.6 ± 2.3 vs 16.4 ± 4.7, P < 0.01(14 days) and 12.8 ± 2.9 vs 16.7 ± 3.4, P < 0.05 (28 days), respectively. The Purkinje cell protein-2 mRNA and its protein levels in offspring rats were significantly reduced that showed Purkinje cell protein-2 mRNA 1.12 ± 0.04 vs 2.25 ± 0.53, P < 0.05 (14 days) and 1.74 ± 0.94 vs 8.69 ± 2.71, P < 0.01 (28 days). However, mild iodine deficiency and excessive iodine maintained almost normal thyroid function in maternal and neonatal rats and normal Purkinje cell protein-2 mRNA and protein levels in offspring's cerebellum. We conclude that severe iodine deficiency could significantly reduce Purkinje cell protein-2 mRNA and its protein levels, indicating that the cerebellum development was retarded, but mild iodine deficiency and excessive iodine could maintain them at an approximately normal level by the mother's and offspring's compensations, especially by the mother's mammary glands.