The anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that regulates cell cycle progression in proliferating cells. To enter the S-phase, APC/C must be inactivated by phosphorylation of its cofactor, Cdh1. In post-mitotic cells such as neurons APC/C-Cdh1 complex is highly active and responsible for the continuous degradation of mitotic cyclins. However, the specific molecular pathway that determines neuronal cell cycle blockade in post-mitotic neurons is unknown. Here, we show that activation of glutamatergic receptors in rat cortical primary neurons endogenously triggers cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (Cdk5)-mediated phosphorylation of Cdh1 leading to its cytoplasmic accumulation and disassembly from the APC3 core protein, causing APC/C inactivation. Conversely, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of Cdk5 promotes Cdh1 ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Furthermore, we show that Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation and inactivation of Cdh1 leads to p27 depletion, which switches on the cyclin D1-cyclin-dependent kinase-4 (Cdk4)-retinoblastoma protein (pRb) pathway to allow the S-phase entry of neurons. However, neurons do not proceed through the cell cycle and die by apoptosis. These results indicate that APC/C-Cdh1 actively suppresses an aberrant cell cycle entry and death of neurons, highlighting its critical function in neuroprotection.