The developmental fates of subventricular zone (SVZ) cells of the postnatal rat forebrain were determined by retroviral-mediated gene transfer and immunolabeling for glial antigens. A beta-galactosidase-containing retrovirus injected stereotactically into the SVZ infected small, immature cells. By 28 days post-injection labeled cells had appeared in both gray and white matter of the ipsilateral hemisphere. White matter contained labeled oligodendrocytes, but few astrocytes, while neocortex and striatum contained both glial types, often appearing in tightly knit clusters. An analysis after simultaneously injecting alkaline phosphatase- and beta-galactosidase-containing retroviruses showed that cells in each cortical cluster were related. Most clusters contained a single cell type, but approximately 15% contained both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. These observations strongly suggest that a single SVZ cell can differentiate into both glial types.