Previous neuropathological studies have revealed that the corticolimbic system of schizophrenic patients expresses abnormal levels of various synaptic molecules, which are known to be influenced by the neuronal differentiation factors, neurotrophins. Therefore, we determined levels of neurotrophins and their receptors in the postmortem brains of schizophrenic patients and control subjects in relation to molecular impairments in schizophrenia. Among the neurotrophins examined, levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were elevated specifically in the anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus of schizophrenic patients, but levels of nerve growth factors and neurotrophin-3 showed no change in any of the regions examined. In parallel, the expressions of TrkB receptor and calbindin-D, which are both influenced by BDNF, were reduced significantly in the hippocampus or the prefrontal cortex. However, neuroleptic treatment did not appear to mimic the neurotrophic change. Neither withdrawal of drug treatment in patients nor chronic administration of haloperidol to rats altered levels of BDNF. These findings suggest that neurotrophic abnormality is associated with the corticolimbic structures of schizophrenic patients and might provide the molecular substrate for pathological manifestations of the illness.