Neurogenesis continues in various regions of the central nervous system (CNS) throughout life. As the mitogen basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) can proliferate neuronal precursors of CNS neurons in culture, and is also upregulated within adult dorsal root ganglia following axotomy, it is possible that the postnatal dorsal root ganglia contain bFGF-responsive neuronal precursors. We undertook cell culture of postnatal mouse dorsal root ganglia to demonstrate neurogenesis. Basic FGF induced a cellular proliferative response in dorsal root ganglia cell culture. After 2 weeks in serum-free medium containing bFGF, neurons were rarely observed. However, following removal of bFGF and addition of trophic factors, many cells were observed that morphologically resembled dorsal root ganglia neurons, stained for neuronal markers, and generated action potentials. Furthermore, bromodeoxyuridine, used as a marker of cytogenesis, was detected in neurofilament-160(+) and/or microtubule-associated protein-2(+) cells that morphologically resembled neurons. In addition to bFGF, epidermal growth factor, nerve growth factor, and sonic hedgehog were also capable of generating spherical cell clusters that contained cells that stained for neuronal markers following the addition of trophic factors. These results suggest that early postnatal dorsal root ganglia contain neural precursors that appear to proliferate in response to various factors and can then be induced to differentiate into neurons. In conclusion, the existence of neural precursors and the possibility of neurogenesis in postnatal dorsal root ganglia may provide a greater range of plasticity available to somatosensory systems during growth or following injury, perhaps to replace ineffectual or dying neurons.