Carbonic anhydrase II (CAII) is a multifunctional enzyme found in oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in normal mouse brains. We have begun to compare the glial cells in primary cultures from neonatal genetically CAII-deficient (Car) mice to those from normal (con) mice in order to detect developmental defects, if any, in Car glial cells. In con cultures intensely CAII-positive cells costained with antibodies against the oligodendrocytic markers, O4 and myelin basic protein (MBP), respectively. Most (82%) of the CAII-positive cells were O4-positive, but only ∼60% were MBP-positive. Some clumps of GFAP-positive cells were CAII-positive. At each respective number of days in vitro (DIV) total numbers of O4-positive cells were similar in Car and con cultures, and total numbers of galactocerebroside-positive cells also were similar in Car and con cultures. However, compared to cells in con cultures at 7 DIV, a lower percent of Car cells in the oligodendrocyte lineage expressed MBP, and morphological differentiation also was subnormal in that the Car cells showed fewer processes and membrane sheets. Car and con cultures expressed similar numbers of MBP-positive cells by 10 DIV. The results suggest a temporary delay in the maturation of Car oligodendrocytes.