Two different monoclonal antibodies to the Thy-1 antigen, T11D7 and 2G12, were used to purify and characterize retinal ganglion cells from postnatal rat retina. Although Thy-1 has been reported to be a specific marker for ganglion cells in retina, retinal cell suspensions contained several other types of Thy-1-positive cells as well. Nevertheless, a simple two-step "panning" procedure allowed isolation of ganglion cells to nearly 100% purity. We found that postnatal ganglion cells differed in antigenic, morphological, and intrinsic electrophysiological characteristics, and that these properties were correlated with one another. Minor variations of this panning protocol should allow rapid, high yield purification to homogeneity of many other neuronal and glial cell types.