Dopamine (DA) axons in the developing striatum cluster in discrete areas called “DA islands”. During the third postnatal week, most DA islands are no-longer detectable and the DA innervation becomes uniform. In this study we explored the relationship between the pattern of DA innervation and the number of striatal tyrosine hydroxylase positive (TH+) cells during early postnatal development. By using dedicated stereology we found that the newborn striatum contains striatal TH+ cells, which cluster around newly sprouted DA axons. The number of these cells decreases when DA axons develop a full pattern of striatal innervation. This condition suggests a causal relationship between the amount of striatal DA innervation and the presence of striatal DA neurons. A better knowledge of the mechanisms regulating the ontogenesis of the nigrostriatal DA system may pave the way to strategies of neurorescue of the DA system.