Understanding the mechanisms that govern neuronal responses to oxidative and metabolic stress is essential for therapeutic intervention. In vitro modeling is an important approach for these studies, as the metabolic environment influences neuronal responses. Surprisingly, most neuronal culture methods employ conditions that are non-physiological, especially with regards to glucose concentrations, which often exceed 20mM. This concentration is a significant departure from physiological glucose levels, and even several-fold greater than that seen during severe hyperglycemia. The goal of this study was to establish a physiological neuronal culture system that will facilitate the study of neuronal energy metabolism and responses to metabolic stress. We demonstrate that the metabolic environment during preparation, plating, and maintenance of cultures affects neuronal viability and the response of neuronal pathways to changes in energy balance.