One key factor underlying the functional balance of cortical networks is the ratio of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The mechanisms controlling the ultimate number of interneurons are beginning to be elucidated, but to what extent similar principles govern the survival of the large diversity of cortical inhibitory cells remains to be investigated. Here, we investigate the mechanisms regulating developmental cell death in neurogliaform cells, bipolar cells, and basket cells, the three main populations of interneurons originating from the caudal ganglionic eminence and the preoptic region. We found that all three subclasses of interneurons undergo activity-dependent programmed cell death. However, while neurogliaform cells and basket cells require glutamatergic transmission to survive, the final number of bipolar cells is instead modulated by serotonergic signaling. Together, our results demonstrate that input-specific modulation of neuronal activity controls the survival of cortical interneurons during the critical period of programmed cell death.