Reactive gliosis is a powerful response to brain injury and subsequent neuronal damage in vivo. Neuronal cell cultures are now well established as assays to study this process in vitro. However, equivalent studies of purified glial cell populations have only recently been achieved, following the realization that glial cells produce many of the neuropeptides, transmitters and growth factors that are produced also by neurons. There is now scope for studies in vitro that use mixed, identified populations of glial and neuronal cells to dissect the interactions between the two. Such cultures also lend themselves to assays for potential therapeutic strategies for brain injury that take account of all the different cell types found in the brain.