Tau in Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles has been shown to be hyperphosphorylated and CDK5, GSK3, MAP kinase and SAP kinases are the candidate kinases for the phosphorylation of tau. Recently, it was reported that the conversion of p35, the activator of CDK5, to p25 was upregulated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains, and that p35 is cleaved to yield p25 by calpain. Here we show that p35 is rapidly cleaved to p25 in rat and human brains within a short postmortem delay and that the conversion of p35 to p25 is partially dependent on calpain activity. Immunoblot analysis of brains prepared from patients with AD or age-matched control individuals with a short postmortem delay revealed no specific increase in the levels of p25 in AD brains, whereas the levels of active form of calpain were increased in AD brains compared to the those in controls. These observations suggest that the conversion of p35 to p25 is a postmortem degradation event and may not be upregulated in AD brains.