Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) due to their unique properties have sparked interest for their use in biomedical applications in recent years. In particular, the use of CNTs as substrates/scaffolds for neural cell growth has been an area of active research over the past decade. CNTs, either native or functionalized with various chemical groups, are biocompatible with neuronal cell adhesion and growth. Functionalized CNTs can modulate the neuronal growth in graded manner; positively charged CNTs promoted neurite outgrowth of hippocampal neurons in culture to a greater extent than when these cells were grown on neutral or negatively charged CNTs. Conductivity and mechanical properties of CNTs have been shown to affect neuronal morphology as well. Other neural cells, such as stem and glial cells, can also be successfully grown on CNT substrates. While currently the acute toxicity of CNTs is considered comparable to that of other forms of carbon, the long-term exposures limits need to be established in order to use these materials as neural prosthesis. Nonetheless, accumulating data support the use of CNTs as a biocompatible and permissive substrate/scaffold for neural cells and such application holds great potential in biomedicine. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.