Cerebroglycan is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked integral membrane heparan sulfate proteoglycan found exclusively in the developing nervous system. In the rodent, cerebroglycan mRNA first appears in regions containing newly generated neurons and typically disappears 1 to several days later (Stipp et al., 1994, J. Cell Biol. 124:149-160). To gain insight into the roles that cerebroglycan plays in the developing nervous system, monospecific antibodies were prepared and used to localize cerebroglycan protein. In the rat, cerebroglycan was prominantly expressed on axon tracts throughout the developing brain and spinal cord, where it was found at times when axons are actively growing, but generally not after axons have reached their targets. Cerebroglycan was also found on neuronal growth cones both in vivo and in vitro. Interestingly, cerebroglycan immunoreactivity was rarely seen in or around neuronal cell bodies. Indeed, by examining the hippocampus at a late stage in development-when most neurons no longer express cerebroglycan but newly generated granule neurons do-evidence was obtained that cerebroglycan is strongly polarized to the axonal, and excluded from the somatodendritic, compartment of neurons. The timing and pattern of cerebroglycan expression are consistent with a role for this cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan in regulating the growth or guidance of axons. (C) 1937 Academic Press.