The structure of the plasma membrane of Purkinje cell dendrites was examined in weaver and staggerer mutant mice. Purkinje spines in weaver mice have clusters of intramembrane particles which resemble those at normal synapses with parallel fibers, even though no parallel fibers are formed in this mutant. There are very few spines in the staggerer, and these manifest normal intramembrane structure at contacts with climbing fibers. The spines which would normally be involved in synapses with parallel fibers are never formed in the staggerer, and the intramembrane structures which would have been associated with these spine synapses are also lacking. Thus, during postnatal cerebellar development in the mutants, acquisition of intramembrane specializations requires Purkinje spine formation but can occur independently of the development of parallel fibers.