The morpho-functional development of the visual area of the cerebral cortex of newborn rats and effects of serotonin (5-HT) on these processes were studied in long-term (up to 40 days) organotypic cultures. It was shown that systematic addition of 5-HT in physiological concentrations to the nutrient medium during cultivation of the explants stimulates glia proliferation, neuron differentiation, neuropil formation, axon myelination and synaptogenesis. Electrophysiological studies of cortical cells in 5-HT-treated cultures showed earlier exhibition of spontaneous activity, increased number (by 33%) of spontaneously firing neurons and prevalence of periodic (bursting) type of discharges. Cultivation of neurons in a medium with 5-HT approximates their sensitivity to 5-HT to that observed in situ. The data obtained are indicative of the stimulating effects of 5-HT on the morpho-functional development of the rat cerebral cortex in tissue culture.