The serotonin (5-HT) system densely innervates many brain areas and is important for proper brain development. To specifically ablate the 5-HT system we generated mutant mice carrying a floxed Munc18-1 gene and Cre recombinase driven by the 5-HT-specific serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) promoter. The majority of mutant mice died within a few days after birth. Immunohistochemical analysis of brains of these mice showed that initially 5-HT neurons are formed and the cortex is innervated with 5-HT projections. From embryonic day 16 onwards, however, 5-HT neurons started to degenerate and at postnatal day 2 hardly any 5-HT projections were present in the cortex. The 5-HT system of mice heterozygous for the floxed Munc18-1 allele was indistinguishable from control mice. These data show that deletion of Munc18-1 in 5-HT neurons results in rapid degeneration of the 5-HT system and suggests that the 5-HT system is important for postnatal survival. © 2011 Dudok et al.