Epidermal growth factor (EGF) responsive precursors isolated from the developing mouse striatum could be continually expanded in culture as free-floating spheres of cells for over 50 days. Under identical conditions, EGF-responsive precursors from the developing rat striatum could only be expanded for between 21 and 28 days, after which crisis ensued and there was a reduction in cell number at each passage. The outer regions of 28-day-old rat spheres contained a heterogeneous population of both dividing and dying cells while the cores were full of dying cells, many of which showed features consistent with apoptosis. Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) alone did not lead to an expansion in rat striatal precursor cell number under the conditions used here. EGF combined with FGF-2 acted synergistically on cell growth, but did not prevent the final senescence and death of the rat precursors.