Neural progenitors are thought to be multipotent cells whose adult phenotype is determined by extrinsic influences acting during and immediately after their last mitosis. To test this hypothesis, postnatal cerebellar precursor cells were placed in the heterochronic cellular environment of the embryonic mouse cerebellar anlage and the resulting phenotypes were determined. To identify the cells arising from postnatal precursors, tissue fragments taken from 3- to 8-day-old cerebellum of several transgenic mouse lines (each expressing the lacZ reporter gene in different sets of neuronal populations) were mixed with fragments taken from the wild-type cerebellar primordium of 12- or 13-day-old embryos. The fragments were dissociated and grafted into the cerebellum of adult mice. The phenotype acquired by postnatal precursors in the mixed grafts was determined by their morphology and ultrastructural features and by the expression of specific markers. Only two adult phenotypes were generated by these precursors: granule cells and molecular layer interneurons. Most granule cells were well integrated in the trilaminated cortex of the graft, being positioned in their proper layer both during development and after complete maturation. By contrast, basket and stellate cells were always ectopic, remaining outside the molecular layer. These results indicate that at least two distinct progenitor cells are present in the postnatal cerebellar cortex under the experimental conditions of this study. Both progenitors appear to be strictly specified at the time of grafting, and neither their identify nor the expression of their major distinctive features are significantly influenced by local signals emerging from the cellular environment of the embryonic cerebellar anlage.