Long-term recording of spontaneous activity in cultured cortical neuronal networks was carried out using substrates containing multi-electrode arrays. Spontaneous uncorrelated firing appeared within the first 3 days and transformed progressively into synchronized bursting within a week. By 30 days from the establishment of the culture, the network exhibited a complicated non-periodic, synchronized activity pattern which showed no changes for more than 2 months and thus represented the mature state of the network. Pharmacological inhibition of activity only during the period when regular synchronized bursting was observed was capable of producing a different mature activity pattern from the control. These results suggest that periodic synchronized bursting plays a critical role in the development of synaptic connections.