Previous studies have shown that electrical stimulation of the cochlea by a cochlear implant promotes increased survival of spiral ganglion (SG) neurons in animals deafened early in life (Leake et al.  J Comp Neurol 412:543–562). However, electrical stimulation only partially prevents SG degeneration after deafening and other neurotrophic agents that may be used along with an implant are of great interest. GM1 ganglioside is a glycosphingolipid that has been reported to be beneficial in treating stroke, spinal cord injuries, and Alzheimer's disease. GM1 activates trkB signaling and potentiates neurotrophins, and exogenous administration of GM1 has been shown to reduce SG degeneration after hearing loss. In the present study, animals were deafened as neonates and received daily injections of GM1, beginning either at birth or after animals were deafened and continuing until the time of cochlear implantation. GM1-treated and deafened control groups were examined at 7–8 weeks of age; additional GM1 and no-GM1 deafened control groups received a cochlear implant at 7–8 weeks of age and at least 6 months of unilateral electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation elicited a significant trophic effect in both the GM1 group and the no-GM1 group as compared to the contralateral, nonstimulated ears. The results also demonstrated a modest initial improvement in SG density with GM1 treatment, which was maintained by and additive with the trophic effect of subsequent electrical stimulation. However, in the deafened ears contralateral to the implant SG soma size was severely reduced several months after withdrawal of GM1 in the absence of electrical activation. J. Comp. Neurol. 501:837–853, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.