It has been well established that rat Schwann cells down regulate their cell-surface expression of galactocerebroside (GalC) in vitro under normal cell culture conditions. To determine whether human Schwann cells exhibit a similar down-regulation of GalC in vitro we examined GalC expression in dissociated human Schwann cell cultures derived from normal adult peripheral nerve. Twenty-four hours post-dissociation up to 63 of human Schwann cells were found to express detectable levels of GalC on their surface whereas less than 8 of the Schwann cells expressed detectable levels of GalC at 14 days post-dissociation. In contrast, after nearly 3 months of peripheral nerve explant culture, greater than 30 of human Schwann cells still retained their GalC expression. A similar pattern was also observed when analyzing Schwann cell purity with dissociated cultures exhibiting a rapid decrease in Schwann cell purity under normal culturing conditions although Schwann cell purity was found to be largely unaffected during the period of peripheral nerve explant culture. In summary, we found there was less variation in both GalC expression and Schwann cell purity with time in peripheral nerve explant cultures than dissociated cultures.