Although a number of investigations of abnormalities of cerebellar development have been carried out in the hamster, no detailed Golgi or ultrastructural studies of cerebellar development in this species have been reported. This report describes the development of the hamster cerebellar cortex from birth (day 0) through postnatal day 78, as studied by light, Golgi, and electron microscopic methods. Foliation patterns correlate with the expansion of the cerebellar layers and of total cerebellar area. Cytologic and morphologic development of the major cerebellar cell types--Purkinje, Golgi, basket, stellate, granule, and Bergmann glial cells--correlate with those of other species, such as the rat and mouse. Electron microscopic observations at selected developmental ages allow identification and classification of synapses in the early postnatal hamster. Parallel fiber and climbing fiber synapses are already present at birth. Although synaptogenesis probably continues through the first two postnatal months, all major cell types have developed initial synapses by postnatal day 6, at a time when little cellular maturation has occurred. By using gestational rather than natal age, close developmental correlations between hamsters and rat and mouse are possible. Since the gestational period of the hamster is only 16 days, the hamster cerebellum is less mature at birth than that of either the rat or mouse. Thus, the hamster is a convenient animal in which to investigate the effects of various procedures on early cerebellar development.