Although primary neuronal cell cultures, usually obtained from embryonic or early postnatal rodents, have been used in vitro to study the neural cannabinoid signalling system, development of cell lines with neural properties exhibiting native expression of cannabinoid receptors is desirable. This study was undertaken to investigate the expression of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in neurons that develop from retinoic acid (RA)-primed mouse P19 embryonal carcinoma cells. Both undifferentiated P19 cells and RA-treated P19 neurons were positive, by using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), for CB1 (but not CB2) mRNA. Neuronal differentiation increased the CB1 mRNA expression, and Western blotting with a CB1 receptor antibody showed a strong immunoreactive band at approximately 62 kDa in membranes from P19-derived neurons. The cannabinoid receptor agonists CP 55,940 and HU-210 produced concentration-dependent inhibition of forskolin-induced (3 μM) cyclic AMP production in the P19-derived neurons (29% at 1 μM CP 55,940 and 34% at 1 μM HU-210), which could be blocked by the CB1-selective receptor antagonist AM251, but not by the CB2-selective antagonist AM630. Furthermore, glutamate (100 μM) induced a sustained increase in [Ca2+]i in P19-derived neurons that could be concentration-dependently blocked by the cannabinoid receptor agonists WIN 55,212-2. Thus, the protocol used provides an in vitro model system expressing CB1 cannabinoid receptors at the level of mRNA, protein, and AM251-sensitive agonist-induced inhibition of intracellular cyclic AMP accumulation, which may be useful to investigate the developmental regulation, expression and function of neuronal cannabinoid receptors.