Previous studies showed that LiCl promotes short-term survival of PC12 cells after NGF or serum deprivation. In the present work, we investigate the survival effect of lithium on cerebellar granule primary cultures. While the total population of cerebellar neurons, mainly granule cells, showed only a short-term survival (about 20 h) in the presence of LiCl, the survival of 65-100% of the GABAergic interneurons originating from cerebellum and cerebral cortex at two different developmental stages was prolonged by 1-2 weeks. Optimal activity was elicited between 5 and 7 mM LiCl. The action of lithium required the presence of serum and persisted also after medium renewal. By direct visual inspection, LiCl promoted neuronal survival without apparently altering the morphological differentiation of the cells. Our studies thereby suggest a means to obtaining enriched populations of GABAergic neurons.