Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-4 are required for normal taste bud development. Although these neurotrophins normally function via the tyrosine kinase receptor, trkB, they also bind to the pan-neurotrophin receptor, p75. The goal of the present study was to determine whether the p75 receptor is required for the development or maintenance of a full complement of adult taste buds. Mice with p75 null mutations lose 34% of their circumvallate taste buds, 36% of their fungiform papillae, and 26% of their fungiform taste buds by adulthood. The reduction of taste buds in the adult circumvallate papilla was similar to that observed previously at postnatal day 7 (Fan et al. Brain Res Dev Brain Res 2004;150:23-39). Taken together, these findings indicate that the p75 receptor is critical for the development of a full complement of taste buds, but is not required for maintenance of circumvallate taste buds in adulthood. Immunolabeling for p75 was not observed in taste buds, indicating that p75 signaling influences taste bud number indirectly. Geniculate ganglion neurons, which provides innervation to fungiform taste buds, express the p75 receptor. Mice with p75 null mutations also have fewer neurons in the geniculate ganglion. Together, these results suggest that the p75 receptor is important for the survival of geniculate neurons and geniculate neuron survival is required for the development of a full complement of taste buds by adulthood.