The early postnatal period is a unique time of brain development, as diminishing amounts of neurogenesis coexist with waves of gliogenesis. Understanding the molecular regulation of early postnatal gliogenesis may provide clues to normal and pathological embryonic brain ontogeny, particularly in regards to the development of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) contributes to neuronal migration and cell cycle control during embryogenesis, and to the differentiation of neurons and oligodendrocytes during adulthood. However, Cdk5's function in the postnatal period and within discrete progenitor lineages is unknown. Therefore, we selectively removed Cdk5 from nestin-expressing cells and their progeny by giving transgenic mice (nestin-CreERT2/R26R-YFP/CDK5flox/flox [iCdk5] and nestin-CreERT2/R26R-YFP/CDK5wt/wt [WT]) tamoxifen during postnatal (P) days P2-P 4 or P7-P 9, and quantified and phenotyped recombined (YFP+) cells at P14 and P21. When Cdk5 gene deletion was induced in nestin-expressing cells and their progeny during the wave of cortical and hippocampal gliogenesis (P2-P4), significantly fewer YFP+ cells were evident in the cortex, corpus callosum, and hippocampus. Phenotypic analysis revealed the cortical decrease was due to fewer YFP+ astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, with a slightly earlier influence seen in oligodendrocytes vs. astrocytes. This effect on cortical gliogenesis was accompanied by a decrease in YFP+ proliferative cells, but not increased cell death. The role of Cdk5 in gliogenesis appeared specific to the early postnatal period, as induction of recombination at a later postnatal period (P7-P9) resulted in no change YFP+ cell number in the cortex or hippocampus. Thus, glial cells that originate from nestin-expressing cells and their progeny require Cdk5 for proper development during the early postnatal period. © 2013 Petrik et al.