Expression of CD1 by microglia, macrophages and T cells was investigated ex vivo. In the healthy central nervous system (CNS), resident microglia, macrophages and T cells express levels of CD1 significantly lower than that expressed by splenic macrophages and T cells. During experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), CD1 expression by microglia and the number of CD1+ microglia increase. Macrophages and T cells strongly upregulate CD1 expression in the CNS, but not in the spleen. Whereas the function of CD1 expressed by T cells remains unclear, the expression by microglia and macrophages provides the CNS with a (glyco)lipidic-presenting molecule in an inflammatory and demyelinating environment.