Previous studies in schizophrenia have shown alterations in membrane phospholipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, these studies have primarily examined peripheral (non-neuronal) cell types. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the membrane deficits seen in peripheral tissues are also observed in the brain. The caudate was the primary region of interest for this study. Using high-pressure liquid chromatography in conjunction with an evaporative light-scattering detector, we first measured the level of various membrane phospholipids (PL) in schizophrenic (n=11) and control groups with (n=7) and without (n=14) other mental disorders. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) were then determined by capillary gas chromatography. Within groups, there are no significant correlations between membrane PL levels and other collection and demographic parameters including age, postmortem interval, storage time and brain weight. Significantly lower amounts of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine were found in postmortem brain tissue from schizophrenic patients than in those from control groups, even after accounting for potential confounds. In addition, strong reductions of total PUFAs and saturated fatty acids were found in schizophrenic brains, relative to control brains. Specifically, the reduced PUFAs were largely attributable to decreases in arachidonic acid (AA) and, to a lesser extent, its precursors, linoleic and eicosadienoic acids. There are no significant differences between the control groups with and without other mental disorders. The present findings suggest that deficits identified in peripheral membranes may also be present in the brain from schizophrenic patients. Such a deficit in membrane AA may contribute to the many biological, physiological, and clinical phenomena observed in schizophrenia.