The behavioural consequences of neonatal lesions of the frontal cortex are limited as compared with similar lesions performed in adulthood. The present study has investigated, using unbiased quantitative methods with randomized systematic sampling, the total neuronal cell numbers in the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus after aspiration lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex performed in neonatal and in adult rats. It was found that the reduction in total cell numbers after neonatal prefrontal cortex lesions was similar to that found after adult cortex lesions. In neonatally lesioned animals the neuronal cell density was significantly increased by 13%, whereas in adult lesioned animals it was unchanged. On the other hand, the volume of the mediodorsal nucleus was reduced by 27% in neonatally, and 20% in adult lesioned animals. Total neuronal cell number of the mediodorsal nucleus was significantly decreased in neonatally as well as in adult lesioned rats, by 14% and 21%, respectively. These findings are discussed in the light of the previously proposed role of the thalamus as a neural substrate of functional sparing after neonatal cortical lesions.