A microglial response is part of the inflammatory processes in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have used APP23 transgenic mice overexpressing human amyloid precursor protein with the Swedish mutation to characterize this microglia response to amyloid deposits in aged mice. Analyses with MAC-1 and F4/80 antibodies as well as in vivo labeling with bromodeoxyuridine demonstrate that microglia in the plaque vicinity are in an activated state and that proliferation contributes to their accumulation at the plaque periphery. The amyloid-induced microglia activation may be mediated by scavenger receptor A, which is generally elevated, whereas the increased immunostaining of the receptor for advanced glycation end products is more restricted. Although components of the phagocytic machinery such as macrosialin and Fc receptors are increased in activated microglia, efficient clearance of amyloid is missing seemingly because of the lack of amyloid-bound autoantibodies. Similarly, although up-regulation of major histocompatibility complex class II (IA) points toward an intact antigen-presenting function of microglia, lack of T and B lymphocytes does not indicate a cell-mediated immune response in the brains of APP23 mice. The similar characteristics of microglia in the APP23 mice and in AD render the mouse model suitable to study the role of inflammatory processes during AD pathogenesis.